Our Staff & Board

Kristin Gardner, PhD

Chief Executive and Science Officer 

kristin@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Kristin has led the Gallatin River Task Force since 2007. Prior to that, she had been working on the Gallatin River for many years, conducting her doctoral research that examined land use impacts on water quality and serving as a Big Sky Institute fellow at Ophir School. Originally from Maine, she moved west with a background in Water Resource Engineering and Environmental Policy from Tufts University and experience working with the Nantucket Land Council and the Nantucket community on ground water quality issues. Kristin has published her work in several scientific journals, including Water Resources Research and Ground Water. Kristin and her husband, JJ, son, Elijah, and yellow lab, Althea, reside in Big Sky and spend as much time as possible exploring the outdoors in and beyond Montana.

Emily O’Connor

Conservation Director 

emily@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Emily brings over a decade of experience in natural resource management and recreation planning and is thrilled to support the Task Force in achieving its water conservation and restoration goals. “A healthy Gallatin River watershed is fundamental to our livelihood. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to partner with the Big Sky community to improve water conservation and efficiency for a sustainable future.”

Isabella Vendramin

Operations Manager

isabella@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Isabella is from Irvington, New York. She graduated from Colgate University in May where she majored in Environmental Science and minored in Anthropology. Isabella interned with the Task Force for the past two summers, assisting with water and algae sampling, educating the Big Sky community about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, canvassing for citizen and business endorsements of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and helping out with the summer’s major fundraising events. “I have noticed how important public involvement and support is to having a healthy relationship with a river, thus I wanted to get involved with an organization that is so devoted to their work to keep the river healthy while also ensuring access to plentiful, clean water for their community.”

Gallatin River Task Force Staff

Marne Hayes

Communications Manager 

marne@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Marne has developed her leadership skills in the non-profit, economic development and outdoor advocacy space collectively for nearly two decades, with a special focus on opportunities for small business, public lands & recreation access, and community growth.  She has called Big Sky home since the early 90s, having been hooked by several summers as a seasonal employee in Yellowstone National Park while completing her degree at the University of Maryland.  She currently also serves as Consulting Director for Business for Montana’s Outdoors, advocating on behalf of the economic values of Montana’s outdoor recreation economy.  Her positions in the public non-profit space since the early 2000s has given her the experience and the background she brings to the table in using intentional communications, focused tactics and broad outreach to elevate messaging and effect real change for the places she loves. She and her husband and their two crazy vizslas enjoy as much adventure and time on the trails, in the forests, and on the rivers as possible.

Gallatin River Task Force Staff

Jessica Olson

Conservation Associate

jessica@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Jessica grew up in central Massachusetts and got her B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from the University of New Hampshire in 2018. After college, Jess went to work for North Carolina State Parks teaching environmental education to local elementary students, with a focus on wetland ecology and water quality. Jessica is thrilled to join the Gallatin River Task force to learn about watershed health and become a better environmental steward. Jess served as the Task Force’s Big Sky Watershed Corps member in 2021 and was promoted to a full-time position as Conservation Associate.

Ryan Newcomb, Director of Development

Emma Marchisin

Watershed Corps Member

watershedcorps@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Emma grew up on the coast of New Jersey within a short distance of both the Atlantic Ocean and many local rivers. She attended University of Rochester and earned a B.S. in Environmental Science. Through seeing coral reefs overrun with disease and overfishing during her years scuba diving and the decreased resilience of the beach and rivers she grew up on, Emma developed a passion for helping improve water quality and protection of water-based ecosystems. Emma is excited to join the Task Force to gain more experience in the field and non-profit world, as well as work to preserve the Gallatin for everyone to enjoy.

The Gallatin River Task Force is governed by a board of community members representing a wide variety of stakeholders including: environmental managers, water resource professionals, business owners, realtors, and homeowners.

Ennion Williams

Board Chair

Ennion Williams has lived in Big Sky for 28 years. Ennion spent many years working at Lone Mountain Ranch where he fulfilled several roles as a chef, fishing guide, manager, and ultimately, General Manager. From there, he went on to become General Manager for Big Sky Vacation Rentals and he now acts as V.P. of Events for The Outlaw Partners. He served on the Big Sky CVB and was a board member of Visit Big Sky for many years. He has a passion for the outdoors and floating down rivers around Southwest Montana. As a fly fishing guide for the past 25 years, clean mountain water is very important to his livelihood and is a driving force in his interest in joining the GRTF board. Ennion looks forward to promoting the Task Force’s mission and participating in projects that preserve the Gallatin River.

Rich Chandler

Vice Chair

Rich was born outside of Seattle, WA and began skiing and fishing at a very young age. He moved to Big Sky in 1995 to better explore his love for the outdoors. Through this journey he has been a professional ski patroller for a total of 14 years. Since 2001 Rich has been employed by the Yellowstone Club where he currently manages the environmental performance of the company as well as managing the summer trails program. Rich brings knowledge and experience in the fields of land reclamation, recreational development, and environmental compliance to the Gallatin River Task Force. He currently lives outside of Belgrade with his wife and two children. Away from work, Rich enjoys spending time on skis, pedaling his bike, hiking a mountain with a bow in hand, or carefully waiting for a fish to take a fly.

Heather Budd

 

Treasurer

Heather Budd has lived and worked full time in Big Sky since 1997. Having witnessed the huge growth in Big Sky and the Greater Gallatin Valley, she believes the health of the Gallatin and our water supply need protection and monitoring to ensure viability and accessibility for future generations. The Gallatin is very grounding and calming for her, and she could never imagine a Big Sky without its fresh water and beauty threading along the canyon. Her goal as a board member is to further the mission of the Task Force and make a lasting positive impact on protecting the Gallatin River.  She encourages all Big Sky residents to learn about the river and the surrounding integrated ecosystem to gain a better understanding of how to protect it. When she isn’t working as the CFO of Highline Partners, you can find her fly fishing, floating, and relaxing on the river’s edge.

 

Rob McRae

Secretary

Rob grew up at the base of Mt. Mansfield in Underhill, VT in a farmhouse full of engineers. In 1998, he graduated from the University of Vermont with a BA in History and Economics. His studies brought him to South Africa in 1996 and inspired a diverse wave of experiences, including a year-long trip around the world in 2001, after moving out west to Colorado in 1998. While in Colorado, Rob was a competitive mountain bike and ski racer and started to focus on a career in building. Rob moved to Montana in 2002 and expanding on his previous building experience, started working for CK Design & Construction as a site supervisor. In 2007, Rob and Todd Thesing started Highline Partners Ltd. and received LEED AP accreditation in May 2009. Rob’s pursuit of constant improvement and new technologies are evident in his own personal projects as well as at Highline Partners. His passion for adventure is highlighted by raising his family in Montana with his wife and rediscovering a love for the mountains through this experience. 

JeNelle Johnson

Board Member

JeNelle has long history in Big Sky, starting as a visitor since the early 90s and has been a full-time resident since 2014. She was a scholarship athlete at the University of Minnesota and graduated with an accounting degree, to be later hired as an auditor by Dayton Hudson Corp, and eventually becaming a clothing buyer. JeNelle and her husband Fred moved to Singapore in 1996, and followed that move with four additional overseas adventures. She and Fred live in Grey Drake with their cats, Lenin and Marx. JeNelle enjoys skiing, hiking, visiting art galleries, and traveling. She serves on the Grey Drake HOA Board, volunteers for BSCO and the Arts Council, and has been an active Task Force volunteer since 2015.

Michael Jacquard

Board Member

Michael grew up in Jamestown, Rhode Island, a small island in Narragansett Bay. After attending Assumption College, he returned to Jamestown to become the Food and Beverage Director at the Bay Voyage Hotel in 2000. Michael was an active member of the community in Jamestown, serving as a Chamber of Commerce board member and also a member of the Planning Commission for over 6 years.  Looking for a lifestyle change, Michael moved to Big Sky in the fall of 2014 after accepting the General Manager position at the Lotus Pad Restaurant and now serves as the Food and Beverage Director at Lone Mountain Ranch. Michael loves to play in the mountains and in the water, is an avid skier, hiker, golfer, and fisherman and is extremely grateful to call Big Sky home.

Ryan Kunz

Board Member

Ryan Kunz grew up in West Babylon, New York where his passion for the outdoors, nature and water began. Ryan grew up as a true watermen; fishing, surfing, crabbing and boating. He took this passion to the University of North Florida where he became the Vice President of the UNF Surf Club, organizing beach clean ups, and overall ocean cleanliness awareness within the Jacksonville, Florida community. After traveling and living in places such as Hawaii and Alaska, following his same passions, he found himself in Big Sky, Montana in 2012. While also raising his two children in Big Sky, Ryan was the General Manager of The Rainbow Ranch Lodge, later becoming the General Manager of Lone Mountain Ranch in 2017. LMR has been a steward of its environment for over 100 years providing a synergic place for Ryan to continue both his conservation efforts, and outdoor recreation passions. Ryan is an avid horseback rider, hiker and snowboarder, and grateful to live in Southwest Montana.

Task Force Staff

Christine Sundnas

Board Member

Originally from Idaho and Wyoming, Christine has witnessed rapid change in several western mountain communities. She moved to Bozeman in 2007 and after completing her M.S. in Environmental Science, Christine worked for the Gallatin Local Water Quality District from 2014 until 2021 as the Water Quality Specialist / Hydrogeologist and later as the Department Head. Other relevant work experience outside the Gallatin includes measuring greenhouse gas emissions from thawing arctic permafrost in remote western Alaska, land reclamation monitoring in oil and gas fields, and studying groundwater nitrate in central Montana. In 2021 she founded Rocky Mountain Writers LLC which specializes in technical writing services for clients. When not doing important work focused on the environment, Christine spends her time skiing powder, mountain biking, running and enjoying the mountains with her family.

Bill Collins

Board Member

Bill Collins has extensive experience in the real estate sales and services industry, having led the Sales and Marketing team at Yellowstone Club since late 2009. During his tenure, he led the sales efforts resulting in over $3.4 billion in transaction volume. Prior to joining Yellowstone Club, Bill was a Managing Director with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and its predecessor Spaulding & Slye (S&S), where during his 18-year tenure, he specialized in advising owners and tenants in their real estate strategy, analysis, and execution. While at JLL, Bill served as the Managing Director of the Downtown Boston Leasing Team and was a member of the Executive Committee. He has been a frequent speaker and expert panelist for many commercial and resort real estate organizations and is a graduate of Gettysburg College.  Bill’s talent and passions has given him the opportunity to sit on numerous boards.  He currently resides in Big Sky with his wife, Shannon, and daughter, Elizabeth, where he keeps up his avid participation as a fly fisherman, skier, golfer, and reader.

Task Force Staff

Linda Meade

Board Member

Linda grew up in St. Louis, MO, not far from the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, near the jumping off point for the Corps of Discovery’s journey. From her earliest days, her desire was to be outside, enjoying nature’s beauty and adventure. After studying accounting in college, Linda determined that a desk in an office was not her dream, and thus began a 37-year career with Southwest Airlines as a flight attendant. Trip bidding was driven by which destinations provided the best outdoor activities after she finished work. Linda and her husband, Jack, have visited southwest Montana regularly since the mid 1990s, and happily moved to Big Sky in 2010. These days, you will find her hiking, skiing, paddling, fishing, snowshoeing, camping, or walking with her golden retriever, Rosie. Many of her activities take place near, in, or on the Gallatin River and its tributaries. The Gallatin River Watershed is near and dear to her heart, and working to keep the waters healthy and viable is a welcomed challenge.

Task Force Staff

Eric Ladd

Board Member

Eric Ladd is the founder and CEO of Outlaw Partners, L&K Real Estate, and Boundary Expeditions. He has a strong entrepreneurial passion supporting charity organizations that focus on preservation of land, rivers, and wildlife, and is also involved with charitable groups supporting orphans in Nepal and the efforts to support clean water and open lands. With over 30 years of experience in real-estate sales and development, marketing, events, media, restaurant management, resort operations and expedition guiding, Eric has worked in leadership or consulting capacities with brands including Vail Resorts, Yellowstone Club, Big Sky Town Center, Baldface Cat Skiing, and Everlands.  In 2010, Eric co-founded L&K Real Estate, a development and consulting boutique brokerage based in Big Sky. He launched Boundary Expeditions in 2016, operating multi-day river rafting trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. His passion for wilderness, rivers, and guiding has never subsided after learning to guide at the age of 15 and later completing expeditions including the 2007 first descent of the Salween River in Tibet and the 2009 high-water descent of the Yangtze River in China. He is an avid skier, golfer, fisherman, and hiker. His passion for adventure on rivers and in the mountains is why he chooses to help protect the Gallatin River Watershed.