Our Staff & Board

Working to protect the Gallatin is a duty we don’t take lightly.

Learn more about our small, dedicated staff and board of directors.

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

Chief Operating Officer

emily@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Emily brings over a decade of experience in natural resource and nonprofit management to her role as COO. She began her career in conservation in Lake Tahoe, California working for the U.S. Forest Service then found her niche in the non-profit sector as Project Manager for the Big Sky Community Organization. While serving as Director of Park Operations for the Esplanade Association, Emily worked closely with state and community partners to restore, enhance and program the Charles River Esplanade, a historic 64-acre park in Boston. Throughout her career, Emily’s work and passion has been connecting people to the outdoors and preserving the critical land and water that is essential for healthy communities and a vibrant quality of life.

Gallatin River Task Force Staff

Isabella Vendramin

Director of Development

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

Jessica Olson

Conservation Manager

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.

Gallatin River Task Force Staff

Marne Hayes

Communications Manager 

marne@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Marne brings nearly two decades of experience in the non-profit, economic development and outdoor advocacy space to her role at the Task Force, with a special focus on small business development, 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 in executing 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 crazy vizsla enjoy as much adventure and time on the trails, in the forests, and on the rivers as possible.

Ryan Newcomb, Director of Development

Jack Buban

Big Sky Watershed Corps Member

watershedcorps@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Jack Buban recently moved to join the Task Force team from Greenville, South Carolina after bouncing around between Illinois, Ontario, Georgia and Alaska. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Jack studied Fisheries & Wildlife as well as public policy. What he is most excited about is “the opportunity to learn about the Gallatin River watershed and learn from the great community of conservationists and citizens in this area”. When not in streams or rivers you can typically find Jack out climbing, running, skiing, or doing just about anything outdoors.

Ryan Newcomb, Director of Development

Lauren Myli

Big Sky Watershed Corps Member

conservation@gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Lauren is a natural resource conservation graduate of Colorado State University, who first fell in love with rivers while guiding during summers in college. She has since gone on to teach children about stream ecology and the natural world, as well as how to slide on snow as an instructor at Big Sky Resort in the winter. Her time in Big Sky fostered a specific appreciation of the Gallatin River watershed, and she’s looking forward to giving back to the Gallatin and its community by serving as an Americorps member for the Gallatin River Task Force. In her free time, you can find Lauren still playing in boats on rivers, hiking around, cooking new recipes, or beating her friends in cribbage. 

The Gallatin River Task Force is led by a board of community members representing a wide variety of stakeholders; among them are environmental managers, water resource professionals, business owners, realtors, technical & media arts innovators, and homeowners. All of them share a passion for the Gallatin, and an interest in finding the most reliable, science-based solutions for keeping our river clean and healthy.

Ennion Williams

Board Chair

Ennion Williams moved to Big Sky in 1992 for a summer job, which led him to quickly and permanently call this place home. After years of fly fishing the Gallatin and working as a guide, Ennion recognizes that preservation and stewardship of the Gallatin River is of utmost importance to his daily life and well being. Affected by impacts of a fast-growing town, the Gallatin faces increased pressures, which is what drives Ennion’s interest in being active in the work to maintain a healthy river for generations to come. His passion for serving on the board is fueled by all the Task Force has accomplished for river access and streamside restoration for the Gallatin.  Over the years, the Gallatin has been home to many memories of catching trout and rafting whitewater for many, and Ennion’s hope is that the Gallatin will stay healthy and continue to bring happiness to all who recreate, and live here. 



Rob McRae

Vice Chair

Rob grew up at the base of Mt. Mansfield in Underhill, VT in a farmhouse full of engineers. After being inspired by a diverse wave of experiences, including a year-long trip around the world in 2001, Rob made the move out west to Colorado in 1998. With a competitive passion for biking and skiing, Rob brought his love for mountain life to Montana in 2002 and started work in the building industry, leading eventually to his current role as a partner in Highline Partners Ltd. With a family who shares a love for all things adventure, Rob realized that acting on behalf of a healthy Gallatin was a place he wanted to focus his attention. His passion for adventure is highlighted by raising his family in Montana with his wife, helping find innovative ways to protect our community’s water resources – including the Gallatin – and rediscovering a love for the mountains through all his experiences.

Ryan Kunz

Treasurer

Ryan has lived in the Gallatin Valley for 12 years, and during that time, he and his family have been ingrained in the outdoor lifestyle – including time spent on the Gallatin. With a career in Big Sky’s hospitality industry, Ryan also knows that livelihoods in this community depend on healthy outdoor assets. Ryan’s interest is in helping to ensure that the Gallatin will be as healthy as it is today, for generations, and making sure the river can continue to flow cold and clean are critical to his interest in serving on the board.  When Ryan first moved to Big Sky, one of his earliest memories is of a fishing trip with his father, the feeling of those first steps into the Gallatin, and the rush of catching his first rainbow trout.  As of late, the Middle Fork restoration work is one of the projects Ryan takes the most interest in, knowing that preserving the Gallatin’s tributaries is paramount to keeping the watershed healthy.

JeNelle Johnson

Secretary

JeNelle has long history in Big Sky, starting as a visitor in the early 90s and becoming a full-time resident in 2014. In all the places she has lived, JeNelle tries to involve herself in making a positive impact, and being in Big Sky is no different. She does not hide her concerns about the future of the Gallatin, recognizing the impacts from growth and climate change to a fragile ecosystem. She is dedicated to ensuring the health of this community resource in any way she can, and has enjoyed being a part of the annual fundraising event, Hooked on the Gallatin, that brings in critical funding for annual projects in restoration and conservation. JeNelle’s interest goes back many years to a time she was a volunteer in water monitoring, and that passion for understanding the health of the Gallatin is what keeps her serving on the board today. 

Bill Collins

Board Member

Though Bill’s career experience is based in the real estate sales and services industry, his passion for the Gallatin is what leads him to serve on the Task Force board.  Finding himself in the river to fish nearly every evening of the summer, Bill knows that a healthy Gallatin is imperative to this community.  Leading the Sales and Marketing team at Yellowstone Club since late 2009, Bill understands the Gallatin is a treasured resource, and that hard work is necessary to mitigate impacts on it from a quickly growing community. Over the years, Bill also has grown to understand the critical nature of a community’s intentions to keep its assets healthy.  Bill’s energy for finding solutions for the Gallatin is clear in his participation on the board, where his voice is always part of identifying new and innovative ways to care for the river. Bill and his wife, Shannon, and daughter, Elizabeth, live in Big Sky where they keep up their love of all things recreation.

Leslie Nogaret Bio Picture

Leslie Nogaret

Board Member

With an education in environmental earth sciences and hydrogeology, Leslie’s interest in serving on the board is based in finding ways to keep the connection between groundwater and surface water healthy for the benefit of the whole Gallatin River watershed. Leslie and her family first came to Big Sky in 2013, and moved here full-time in 2021.  Being able to bring her science background to the work of keeping the river healthy has driven her passion on the board, with a belief that without a clean and healthy Gallatin, the community and industries that rely on the river will suffer.  The quick-paced growth is of concern for Leslie, who is most interested in water quality issues and how they affect the community’s water resources.  Access restoration is one of the project areas that Leslie finds most interest in – and when she’s not working to find science-based solutions for keeping the Gallatin clean, she might be found hiking, rafting, or taking a quick plunge off of the Green Bridge. 

Tim Shaw Bio Picture

Ashley Wilson

Board Member

Ashley grew up in Michigan but found her way to Montana after making several trips to Big Sky and discovering the beautiful mountains and endless recreational opportunities. With a background in finance, Ashley helps to track budgeting and works on making sure that the Task Force is a financially healthy and sound organization.  She believes that clean and healthy water is paramount to a healthy community, and understands the huge role that the Gallatin plays on all aspects of life in Big Sky.  Ashley shares a concern for the recent recurring algae blooms, and an added interest in raising awareness about the water conservation program.  A recently ‘hooked’ fly fisherwoman, Ashley’s love of the Gallatin is ever-expanding, as is her commitment to the diverse roles that come with serving on the board. Ashley is excited to keep educating the community on the important role the Gallatin plays in the Big Sky community as a resource, and a natural asset. 

Task Force Staff

Eric Ladd

Board Member

With many significant business roles in Big Sky, Eric has a strong entrepreneurial passion supporting organizations that focus on preservation of land, rivers and wildlife. His passion for wilderness, rivers and guiding has never subsided ever since he learned to guide at the age of 15 and later chased his passion through expeditions and first river descents around the world.  He carries that same passion to his work for the Task Force, with a vision for using his talents, his community connections, and his business acumen to help find appropriate, sustainable solutions for the Gallatin River watershed.  Knowing that a community can be one of the strongest foundations of stewardship, Eric raises awareness and uses the platform of his media business, Outlaw Partners, to help elevate the message about the value of the Gallatin River even higher. 

Task Force Staff

Rod Ray

Board Member

Rod Ray’s impressive background makes him a great fit to the Gallatin River Task Force Board of Directors.  His work in chemical engineering and related principles sparked an interest in applying engineering approaches to issues surrounding water in the west.  With a particular interest in watersheds like the Gallatin, Rod finds interest in problem solving for issues relative to the Big Sky community.  He believes the most pressing issue facing the Gallatin today is population growth, and the associated demand for continued development.  While admittedly not an avid angler, Rod does enjoy all of the adventures of hiking and backcountry skiing that come with life in and around Big Sky.  As a self proclaimed scientist, the work he finds most interesting is the water monitoring and scientific interpretation of the river’s health.  Rod and his family spend time between the mountains of Oregon and his family’s home in Big Sky.

Tim Shaw Bio Picture

Todd Shaw

Board Member

With a degree in fisheries sciences and a career’s worth of work in the seafood industry, Todd has been involved with sustainably managed fisheries resources for decades.  Growing up in the Puget Sound, Todd witnessed the drastic decline of salmon and steelhead runs on local rivers over a 30-year span. He believes strongly that there is a way to have sustainable growth in and around Big Sky – and, that there are potential threats to the Gallatin’s ecosystem in the face of unrestricted growth.  Angling pressures are of particular interest to Todd, who strives to understand what elements contribute to a declining fish population, but feels that the most pressing issue for the Gallatin today is the availability and quality of water.  He loves meeting and talking with the people he meets on the Gallatin while fishing, always welcoming the chance to learn and share stories that connect people to the river. Todd and his family have called Big Sky home since 2016.  

Tim Shaw Bio Picture

Rich McEldowney

Board Member

Rich brings a specialty in work related to wetlands and riparian areas and specifically their fundamentals importance to biodiversity and how our ecosystems function. He is passionate about restoring these systems and working collaboratively to plan, design, and build restoration projects that benefit the region, and finds the most compelling work of the Task Force to be the focus on watershed science. Rich believes that we have a responsibility to all of the downstream users of the Gallatin, to be good stewards of our water quality and quantity, and feels strongly that climate impacts are of significant concern to the health of the river.  His most favorite stories involving the Gallatin are from rafting adventures with his family, where falling out of the boat is never a deterrent to coming back for more fun.  

HOOKED ON THE GALLATIN

Fundraiser, Celebration & Auction

July 28, 2024

Join us on July 28th to make a meaningful impact in protecting the Gallatin River - your participation is vital to preserving this precious resource for future generations.