People

Our Board of Directors

Amber Sherrill

President

Amber Sherrill was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Business and Psychology. She is a strong advocate of protecting open space for wildlife habitat and low-impact recreational use. She has experience in wildlife research focusing on behavioral tendencies. Her professional experience includes many years of marketing and risk management. Amber is on the board of the Missoula International School. She enjoys skiing, backpacking, and mountain biking.

Amber Sherrill
President

Jim Valeo

Vice President

Jim is a businessman and wheat farmer who has been interested in land use planning and conservation of important properties since first owning land in Montana over 20 years ago. He and his wife, Marci, placed a conservation easement on their property in 2007.  Jim serves on the Finance and Executive committees and has experience in direct solicitation of donors.

Jim Valeo
Vice President

Jeffrey Roth

Secretary

As someone who grew up in Missoula, Jeff recognizes the changes in the local landscape and values the importance of stewardship. He is an attorney with Garlington, Lohn, & Robinson. Prior to entering private practice, he worked for the Honorable Donald W. Molloy, the chief federal judge in Montana. Jeff attended college at the United States Naval Academy and law school at the University of Montana. He served as a commander and naval aviator in the Navy. He currently is a commissioner with the Missoula County Airport Authority.

Jeffrey Roth
Secretary

Mary Babson

Treasurer

Mary is originally from Denver.  She holds a B.A. and an M.B.A. Mary spent most of her professional career associated with Arthur Andersen & Co., where she held a number of positions including Worldwide Director of Communications. She now devotes a majority of her time to nonprofit causes, including serving on the boards of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, the Board of Regents at the University of the South, and the Alliance Francaise de Chicago. She is past president of the Boards of the Association of Junior Leages, International, the Hadley School for the Blind, and The Jane Addams Hull House Association. Mary and her husband, Nick, are avid outdoors people and have a passion for land conservation and protection of wildlife habitat.

Mary Babson
Treasurer

Charles Tribe

Board Member

Chuck, a graduate of the University Of Montana School Of Forestry, retired from the US Forest Service after 31 years where he worked in a variety of resource management positions in N. Idaho and Western Montana. Chuck has a strong commitment to the protection of our open lands, intact ecosystems and clean waters. He was one of the early members of Missoula’s Open Space Advisory Committee as well as a founding Board member for Five Valleys Land Trust. Chuck is a sailor, canoeist and fresh water “sea” kayaker. He enjoys building and using boats that are both beautiful and functional, and traveling with his wife, Virginia.

Charles Tribe
Board Member

David Banks

Board Member

Originally from Texas, David spent two years in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer planting trees to slow the spread of the Sahara. He then attended Indiana University where he earned a Masters degree in Public Administration and Natural Resource Management. David started work as an Intern with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana and has served in various jobs at TNC including Director of Stewardship, Conservation Planner, and Alaska State Director. He launched TNC's Africa program in 2007 and serves as the Regional Director for Africa today. David has also had a long interest in Land Trusts serving on the board of the Sycamore Land Trust in Indiana and the Great Land Trust in Alaska. After living in Tanzania and searching all over the USA, David and his wife, Joey, chose Missoula as the best place in the world to live, work and play. He wants to keep it that way.

David Banks
Board Member

Greg Tollefson

Board Member

Greg worked as a conservation professional for nearly three decades, including stints as Executive Director, Conservation Director, and Director of Special Projects at Five Valleys. He worked as an environmental consultant, a fishing guide, a newspaper reporter, and a high school English teacher. He is a free lance writer whose weekly column appeared in the Missoulian newspaper for 27 years. His column continues now as the weekly blog, "Montana: An Embarrassment of Riches-Life in the Outdoors" at gregtollefson.com.

Greg Tollefson
Board Member

Jim Brown

Board Member

Jim spent his early years growing up in Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Minnesota. He pursued a career in Forestry obtaining degrees from the University of Minnesota, Yale University and University of Michigan. In 1965, he came to Missoula where he worked as a Forest Scientist and Project Leader at the U.S. Forest Service, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Since retiring it 1996, he consulted wildland fire problems and works with Montana Audubon and the Five Valleys Audubon Societies, where he is past president of the boards, to pursue conservation of important bird habitats.

Jim Brown
Board Member

Jim Cusker

Board Member

Jim ranches just west of Missoula on the place his parents bought in 1937. He placed a conservation easement on his land in 1998 and was “so impressed with the staff and mission of FVLT,” that he became a volunteer and then joined the board. Jim earned his MS from Montana State University, and taught high school biology for years before turning to ranching full time. He is a past chairman of the Missoula Farmers’ Market board, the Missoula 4H Council, and the MT Science Teachers Association. Jim wants to “preserve farm land and open space wherever possible to leave a trace of the beauty . . . that I enjoyed in my youth.”

Jim Cusker
Board Member

John Rimel

Board Member

John is the publisher at Mountain Press Publishing, an independent press that has achieved national recognition for its books for both young and old on natural history and history, located in Missoula. He served as president of the Rocky Mountain Book Publishers Association and as a board member of the Publisher's Association of the West. A native Montanan, John is active locally, serving as a trustee of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, on the Missoula County Weed Board and formerly on the Missoula County Open Lands Committee. John was a member of the original Open Lands Working Group that presented the county commissioners with a report in June 2006 which resulted in the Open Space Bond being placed on the ballot later that year. In 2007, the Rimel family placed their ranch under a conservation easement with Five Valleys Land Trust. In his spare time, he lives to sail on Flathead Lake, horseback ride, run rivers, take off in his sea kayak or motorcycle, or ski when there’s snow. With John’s daughter and son both out of the house, he and his wife Karen are left to do the chores themselves on the family ranch in the foothills of the Sapphire Mountains, south of Missoula.

John Rimel
Board Member

Julie Gardner

Board Member

Originally from Indiana, Julie attended Indiana University where she earned a B.A. in Economics and Spanish, a Masters of Public Affairs, and a J.D. from the I.U. School of Law. Julie's work as a real estate attorney and, more recently an agent at Lambros Real Estate, affords her countless opportunities to work with others who care deeply about our precious open spaces. Julie is an avid and devoted volunteer within the Missoula community. In addition to serving on the board of Five Valleys Land Trust, Julie is a volunteer for the Missoula International School, where she served on the Board for five years. Julie and her husband Phil are outdoors enthusiasts, and love spending time with their three daughters biking, hiking, rafting and skiing in this magnificent Five Valleys region.

Julie Gardner
Board Member

Kathy McAllister

Board Member

Kathy grew up in Tucson, Arizona. She earned her degree in Forest Management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. She spent 33 years working for the US Forest Service in a variety of locations across the country, serving in many capacities. Kathy moved to Missoula in 1996 where she served as the Deputy Regional Forester for the Northern Region, until her retirement in 2008. Kathy is learning how to be retired with the able assistance of her husband Martin, an archaeologist, and their dogs Pearl and Cheyenne.

Kathy McAllister
Board Member

Ken Burd

Board Member

Ken grew up in Denver, Colorado. He and his wife, Stephanie, now live in Philipsburg, Montana, where they bought their house in 1997. In between and related to Ken’s career in real estate and finance, they lived throughout the Western US and East Asia. These combined experiences fueled a deep interest in conservation and land use planning. In the early 2000s, friends introduced him to the Five Valleys Land Trust through the annual banquet. Ken quickly grew to admire and support the Five Valleys Land Trust’s respectful and patient approach to conservation in Western Montana. As he believes in community involvement, Ken is also the Board Chair of the Granite County Hospital District.

Ken Burd
Board Member

Mary Lynn Eiseman

Board Member

As a 5th generation Montanan Mary Lynn grew up in the mountains, lakes and rivers of western Montana. Guided by her parents and maternal grandmother her early years were shaped by the great outdoors. She and her husband Charlie are the parents of two grown children. A retired dental hygienist she is presently a partner in the PEAK Health and Wellness Center. Mary Lynn and Charlie placed a conservation easement on their Pattee Canyon property in 2001. She is excited to work with Five Valleys to continue the legacy of conservation that has shaped her life.

Mary Lynn Eiseman
Board Member

Pam Volkmann

Board Member

Pam is on her second “tour of duty” as a Five Valleys board member, having previously served from 1996 to 2001. A graduate of Stanford University, Pam first visited Montana during one of her college summers and fell in love with western Montana’s mountains, lakes, and rivers. She moved to Missoula about thirty years ago. Pam worked for many years as a registered nurse and a full-time mom of two. She and her husband, Sandy, have been long-time supporters of Five Valleys Land Trust and are active with numerous non-profit organizations throughout the community.

Pam Volkmann
Board Member

Tom McDonald

Board Member

From Ronan, Tom was born and raised in Montana and has spent the majority of his life working and playing in the open spaces and waterways of Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Flathead drainages. A member of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes and current administrator of their fish, wildlife and recreation programs, he has a degree from the Evergreen State College and has spent the last 32 years managing natural resources for the Tribes. Tom’s earlier career involved wildfire suppression (smoke jumping) and prescribed fire management with the Forest Service, BLM, and BIA. Included in his interests and hobbies are fishing, boating, hunting, watching sports, playing with grandchildren, and preserving open space for grandchildren yet to come.

Tom McDonald
Board Member

Our Staff

Alice Jones

Lands Attorney

Alice was born in Missoula and grew up in Portland, Oregon. Alice returned to Missoula to get her English degree at the University of Montana. After graduating from UM, Alice received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English for a year in Madrid. Alice earned her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle in 2013. While in law school, Alice focused on environmental and public interest law. Alice came to Five Valleys on a post-graduate fellowship in September 2013 and was delighted to join Five Valleys’ staff in January 2014. As Lands Attorney, Alice primarily works on writing and interpreting conservation easements. When she's not working on land conservation, Alice spends as much time as possible outside enjoying Montana's incredible open spaces.

Alice Jones
Lands Attorney

Grant Kier

Executive Director

Grant took over the helm of Five Valleys at the close of 2007, after serving for two productive and successful years as Executive Director of the growing Bitter Root Land Trust, located in Hamilton, Montana. During his tenure at the Bitter Root Land Trust, Grant was instrumental in advancing the organization’s conservation work and establishing key partnerships that led to the passage of a $10 million Open Space Bond in Ravalli County. Grant is a graduate of the University of Colorado, and holds an MS degree in geology. He has parlayed that degree and a lifelong devotion to the outdoors and the natural world into a career in research, scientific consulting, outdoor education, and, of course, plenty of hell-bent-for-leather outdoor recreation. Whether you are out on the river or biking, hiking, or skiing on some of our wonderful open lands around Missoula, don’t be surprised if you run into Grant, his wife Bex, their daughter Fiona, and their two Siberian huskies, Kenai and Kanchi.

Grant Kier
Executive Director

Jenny Tollefson

Stewardship Manager

Jenny joined the Five Valleys staff in 2011. She monitors conservation easements, works with landowners on restoration and management projects, and coordinates educational programs and partnerships. Jenny grew up in western Washington and fell in love with Montana while spending summers with extended family on Swan Lake. Jenny holds a MS in Botany from the University of Vermont and has over 20 years experience in ecology, conservation, and environmental education. She enjoys gardening, camping, skiing, and reading books with her husband Winsor and two children, Will and Iris.

Jenny Tollefson
Stewardship Manager

Lena Viall

Development and Communications Coordinator

Lena joined Five Valleys’ team in 2015. She helps manage Five Valleys’ events, publications and social media. A fourth generation Montanan, she grew up on a farm on the Yellowstone River, north of Miles City. Her upbringing instilled in her a deep love for Montana’s open spaces and rural way of life. Lena received a BA in English-Creative Writing from the University of Montana, and has called Missoula home ever since. An established freelance writer, Lena is excited to use writing and editing skills to further the Five Valleys mission. Lena enjoys gardening, hiking, fishing and furthering her Master Naturalist skills with her fiancé, Erik.

Lena Viall
Development and Communications Coordinator

Patience Grant

Office Manager

Patience grew up on a working dairy farm in Vermont, a portion of which remains in her family and is currently sustainably managed forestland under conservation easement. She holds a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Vermont. After discontinuing farming she moved to Washington where she raised her children. She recently moved to Missoula to be close to family and spend time with her granddaughter. Patience enjoys hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing through the forested mountains.

Patience Grant
Office Manager

Pelah Hoyt

Lands Director

Pelah directs Five Valleys' lands program and works with landowners and partners to reach shared conservation goals. Among the many landowners she has been honored to work with, she found it particularly rewarding to help Bob Hayes protect his Evaro ranch and its meadows of camas that she loved as a kid while growing up in the nearby Jocko Valley, north of Missoula. Pelah has a Master’s in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation, and served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. She thinks she may have the best job in the world and is blessed to have twin boys with her husband Mark.

Pelah Hoyt
Lands Director

Ryan Chapin

Stewardship Director

Ryan Chapin is the director of Five Valleys’ stewardship program. This involves overseeing the annual monitoring and compliance of conservation easements, managing lands owned by the land trust, and leading the “Hands-On-The-Land” volunteer program. Ryan holds a BA in Business from Montana State University and a MA in Geography from the University of Toledo. Ryan has owned his own small business and worked in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. He grew up in Ohio near the farm his extended family still runs today. Ryan and his wife Kate have two children, Quinn and Ella. He enjoys camping, trail running, gardening, and hunting with family and friends.

Ryan Chapin
Stewardship Director

Sarah Richey

Conservation Project Manager

Sarah Richey is a conservation project manager at Five Valleys. Sarah is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah and holds a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies, both from University of Montana, Missoula. Her work experience includes positions in field biology, environmental education, and natural resource management in western Montana. Sarah serves on the board of directors for the Wild Rockies Field Institute. She and her husband Dave love raising their two boys in the mountains, rivers, and wide open spaces of western Montana.

Sarah Richey
Conservation Project Manager

Vickie Edwards

Conservation Project Manager

Vickie has worked in the natural resources field within the Five Valleys’ service area for 15 years for local, state and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations. Her work has focused on conserving fish and wildlife resources, identifying priority habitats for conservation, managing and researching wildlife populations, and developing and cultivating partnerships to accomplish challenging projects and goals. As a wildlife biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks managing big game and other wildlife over a 2 million acre management area, she worked with an interdisciplinary team to successfully purchase the 41,000-acre Fish Creek Wildlife Management Area and State Park.  In addition, she strategically planned and implemented a response strategy for the Bonner bighorn sheep pneumonia outbreak and the white-tailed deer epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreak in the Missoula area.  Vickie also effectively managed the logistics and landowner relations over a 1 million acre study area in the Blackfoot drainage as part of the Northern Continental Divide Grizzly Bear DNA Project.  Vickie’s professional and scholastic efforts have garnered her the Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship, the Montana Governor’s Award for Excellence in Performance, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director’s Special Achievement Award and the Director’s Certificate of Excellence.

Vickie Edwards
Conservation Project Manager

Whitney Schwab

Philanthropy Director

Whitney brings a passion for fundraising and development as director of Five Valleys philanthropy program. Whitney earned a MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a BS in Natural Resources Recreation Management from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She holds the mission of Five Valleys close to her heart having grown up on 6 acres of land that backed up to protected open space. She is now pleased to have recreated that connection from her childhood by living at the base of Mt Jumbo and having daily access to some of Missoula’s best open space. Whitney spends her time running, biking, skiing, and playing with her son, Lander, and husband, Nate, in Montana’s open spaces near and far.

Whitney Schwab
Philanthropy Director

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