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Board of Directors

John ShepardJohn Shepard, Board President

John Shepard is the senior director of programs at the Sonoran Institute, responsible for ensuring that the organization’s programs align with the mission and vision of the organization. John oversees all programs and works with staff in program planning, implementation, and evaluation. He also is responsible for new program development and assists with fundraising at the organizational and program level. John has launched the Institute’s renewable energy program, as well as training programs on community land-use planning for rural western county commissioners, integrating conservation into master-planned communities for developers, and partnership building for public land managers and gateway communities. He also established Building from the Best of Tucson, a project that promotes development consistent with Tucson’s building traditions and appropriate for a desert community. Before joining the Institute, John worked for seven years in resource development at The Wilderness Society and for five years conducting a series of investigative reports on federal health and safety programs for a consumer advocacy organization.

Judith LeFevreJudith LeFevre, Board Vice President

Judy arrived in the Sonoran Desert in the early 1970s, relocating with her family from the Midwest. After earning a BA in Education from the University of Arizona, she taught and coached teachers in middle school general education and special education programs for over 30 years, primarily in underserved communities in Southern Arizona and NYC. Currently, she serves as a part-time Senior Educational Consultant for nonprofit Teaching Matters and a University Supervisor of undergrad field experiences for NAU College of Education. An Arizona Master Teacher, Judy’s career emphasis in K-12 curricular design and instruction has been on student-centered, project-focused inquiry and place-based learning that is accessible for all youth. As a graduate student at the U of A, she co-designed the original Earth Camp program at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Judy earned a master's degree in Teaching and Teacher Education with an Environmental Learning, arid lands emphasis. When she's not engaged in consulting and a few volunteer projects, she can be found sharing meals and movies with local family and friends, hiking in and around various Southwest U.S watersheds, or taking road/camping trips to visit family via national parks or wilderness areas. Judy is committed to supporting WMG’s mission and vision for water sustainability, including Schoolyard Water Education and river restoration.

Garry ForgerGarry Forger, Board Secretary

Garry is currently the outreach coordinator for the Office of Instruction and Assessment at the University of Arizona. Moving to Tucson in 1997, he instantly fell in love with the Sonoran Desert and its environs. Garry has worked in the information field for over 20 years. With a background in historical and archaeological research and working in public libraries, medical informatics, academic information systems, metadata consulting and educational technology. With a long time interest in the environment, Garry has participated in many community activities, is a member of the Tumamoc Stewards program for the Desert Lab of the UofA, was in the first class of the Master Watershed Stewards program, has participated in community education programs of the Sonoran Institute, has volunteered for Saguaro National Park service for many years, was on the board of the Friends of Kartchner Caverns, and has coordinated activities for Environmental Summer Field schools for high school students. With a B.S. in History, with Minors in Education and Anthropology from the SUNY Oneonta, and a Masters in Library Science from Syracuse University and is always looking for new opportunities to learn.

Ceanne AlvineCeanne Alvine, Board Treasurer

Ceanne, PhD, RN spent her career in the healthcare industry. Her current interests are in promoting healthy desert ecosystems in the urban environment that will in turn enhance the well-being and health of the human population. Ceanne is a life-long environmentalist with a passion for water conservation, desert ecology, and wolf restoration programs. She hopes to use her healthcare policy experience and public health knowledge to further the mission of WMG. Ceanne enjoys gardening, water harvesting, bicycling, and spending time with her family.

Mark BriggseMark Briggs, Board Member

Mark Briggs is a stream restoration ecologist with over 25 years of experience working on rivers across the western U.S. and northern Mexico, including the Rio Grande/Bravo, Rio Conchos, Colorado River and its delta, Santa Cruz River, Little Colorado River, Gila River. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in biology from the University of Delaware (1983) and Master’s of Science in watershed management from the University of Arizona (1992). Before joining REW, Mark spent a decade working on stream conservation efforts with the Sonoran Institute (1992-2002, Tucson, Arizona), five years as a restoration consultant (2002 – 2007) and, 12 years with the World Wildlife Fund’s Fresh Water and Rio Grande/Bravo Programs where he led a bi-national response to bring back the Rio Conchos and Rio Grande/Rio Bravo in west Texas, northern Chihuahua and Coahuila. He currently works with RiversEdge West on stream restoration in southern Arizona. His technical publications include two books on how to develop river restoration projects and numerous articles on restoration, monitoring, and natural resource research. Mark has been on the editorial board of the international journal Restoration Ecology for over a decade. Mark spends much of his free time listening to music, hiking, biking, floating rivers, and writing.

Sara Chavarria, PhDSara Chavarria, PhD, Board Member

Sara Chavarria has been designing and conducting informal educational programming that creates learner-centered interactive experiences for underrepresented and marginalized students, as well as for teachers and educators that serve these populations. She is especially interested in best practices for attraction and retention of low income, first generation undergraduate students. More recently, Sara has been connecting College of Education researchers with UArizona faculty to leverage Education science expertise on topics such as Access, Inclusion, Diversity, and Retention of students to facilitate research on effective learning practices for UArizona students and PK-12 audiences. She is also busy collaborating with researchers and staff across campus to facilitate institutional partnerships, support effective initiatives, and advance scholarship that promote equitable access to high-quality STEM experiences, resources, tools, and expertise (also as part of her role within the UArizona STEM Learning Center). Sara is also very interested in student identity frameworks that value their cultural experiences, their heritage, and how that intersects with their higher education experience, especially in STEM career areas. Finally, she is also attentive to best practices associated with faculty and staff training to better mentor and teach marginalized students in their labs or classrooms.

Angelica Cruz FavelaAngelica Cruz Favela, Board Member

Angelica Favela is a Non-Profit Finance Administrator who works with tribal governments, non-profits and most recently consulting and advising for a C.P.A. firm whose clients required pre audit advising and grant and contract management. She spent 10 years working for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona as Grants Accountant and Fiscal Analyst. After leaving the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, in 2015 she worked as the Grants and Contracts Manager and Associate Director of Finance at the Sonoran Institute. Angelica returned to tribal government finance and is now the Director of Procurement of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Other civic activities include serving 4 years on the Board of the Canyon Del Oro Booster Club as Vice President and volunteering as a mentor for the Junior El Tour De Tucson cycling team. She is also a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Angelica received her B.A. from University of Arizona, in 2010 and is currently attending Louisiana State University pursuing her MBA, with an anticipated graduation date of May 2022. Continuing professional education includes courses in COVID-19 relief package reporting and compliance, accounting and auditing updates and government and nonprofit updates and recent updates to GAAP.

Jennifer DiffleyJennifer Diffley, Board Member

Jennifer is a partner at Culp & Kelly, LLP, a mission-driven law and policy firm, where she supports public, private, and nonprofit clients on natural resources management and water law and policy matters. Her work focuses on water scarcity issues in the Western United States, sustainable groundwater management, planning for uncertainty and building climate resilience, conservation program strategy and finance, and collaborative planning and advocacy. Jennifer also has experience in government and utilities law, social science, and environmental science, education, and restoration programs, including serving as an environmental program volunteer for two years in the U.S. Peace Corps. She first worked with WMG in 2017 to design a rainwater harvesting system and Sonoran food forest for her home in Phoenix.

Brian DrummondBrian Drummond, Board Member

Brian moved to Tucson in 2012 after serving 10 years in the US Navy. In making this decision, he understood the need to live sustainably in an area without a natural water source. To help offset his footprint, Brian has installed rainwater harvesting cisterns, two greywater systems and spends his free time creating passive rainwater collecting earthworks at his house. He is blessed to be able to serve with an organization that shares his passion for water conservation and becoming involved in the community. Brian works as an Emergency Physician here in Tucson and loves to travel, teach, and play games while spending time with his amazing wife and three active boys.


Christopher JamesChristopher James, Board Member

Chris likes to joke that he —as most people are— was born a biologist, but as he grew he never stopped searching streams and looking under rocks for all the hidden beauty of life. Chris is bilingual in English and Spanish, and speaks just enough French, Quichua and ASL to get himself into trouble. Chris has worked as a zookeeper with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, as a photographer and writer specializing in the environment, a nature preserve director in the high Andes, an extensionist in community agroforestry, an environmental educator, a consultant in community ecotourism, and as coordinator of a stream research project working with an indigenous community of the upper Amazon, among other ventures and adventures. His travels have taken him to various countries within Europe, North America, the Caribbean and South America, including Ecuador, where he lived for twenty years. He now lives in Tucson, Arizona, where he teaches Environmental Science.


Nancy MontoyaNancy Montoya, Board Member

Nancy Montoya is an award-winning broadcast journalist with more than 40 years of experience. Early in her career, the Arizona native worked at newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Denver, Dallas, Nashville, Charlotte and others. Montoya has earned four Emmys and Columbia University's Alfred I. duPont Silver Baton, the Broadcast Pulitzer - for her coverage of civil wars in Central America for ABC News. She has produced for PBS, CNN and NBC News. She most recently served as senior reporter for border and immigration issues with an emphasis on local environmental concerns at Arizona Public Media. Montoya is married to fellow news producer Kirt Ijams. They own Media Source America and produce independent documentaries concentrating on Southwest water and environmental issues. Nancy's family owns the oldest working ranch in Arizona. The Subia Ranch is located in Southeastern Arizona along the Gila River.

Jennifer PsillasJennifer Psillas, Board Member

Jennifer is a GIS Project Manager for the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department. She has a background in physical sciences and natural resources, with degrees in Geology, Geography, Watershed Management, and GIS, and holds WMG’s certification in Water Harvesting Design. Jennifer is a long-time supporter of WMG who started out as a Green Living Co-op member and donor before joining the board in 2017. A Tucsonan since 1998, Jennifer enjoys road trips and camping, dabbles in assorted crafts, and wants to pet every dog she encounters.

Shaina ShayShaina Shay, Board Member

Shaina Shay is currently the Water Resources and Conservation Specialist for Global Water Resources. Shaina manages Global Water’s conservation program and facilitates water resources planning, accounting, and regulatory compliance. She has a BS in Environment and Water Resource Economics from the University of Arizona and a BA in International Studies. She was able to use both degrees while living abroad in Australia, working for the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning where she specialized in water markets. Shaina’s goal is to use her unusual background and experiences to strengthen water resource policy in Arizona. Her passions include environmental education, public speaking, hiking, and cooking.

Jesús Treviño, Ph.D.Jesús Treviño, Ph.D., Board Member

Jesús Treviño is the Senior Executive Officer for the Leadership in Diversity Group, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm in Tucson, AZ. Dr. Treviño earned both a PhD and a master's degree in Higher Education from UCLA. He also has a second master's degree in Language and International Business as well as a bachelor's degree in Social Work from Eastern Michigan University.


If you are interested in actively serving on the Board of Directors, please contact us.

We are seeking technical advisers, enthusiastic fundraisers, community organizers, or, most importantly, motivated individuals committed to our mission.