Board & Advisory Council

Board of Directors

Zimmie Caner
Administrative Judge,
Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals
Seattle, Washington

Zimmie Caner grew up in the Pacific Northwest. After earning her bachelor's from William Smith College and graduating law school at Seattle University, Zimmie served as an assistant attorney general with a focus on health care. She later came to preside over health care cases as an administrative law judge. Throughout her career, Zimmie has volunteered for environmental, educational, and civil rights non-profit organizations, and has served on a number of non-profit boards. Zimmie joined the Board because she wants to help the Institute’s programs reach a greater number of children and adults, and to nurture future stewards of the northwest wilderness and environment. When Zimmie is not working, she is usually out gardening or biking in town, but her happiest moments are spent in the mountains hiking and skiing with family and friends.

Sterling Clarren, Past Chair
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics,
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

Sterling Clarren was born in Minneapolis. After undergraduate years at Yale University and Medical School at the University of Minnesota, Sterling came to Seattle for residency and fellowship training at the University of Washington. He stayed on at the University to become the Aldrich Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Developmental Medicine and Director of Inpatient Medicine at Children’s Hospital. As a researcher and teacher, the role of outdoor education in facilitating physical health, mental wellbeing and a wilderness protection fascinates Sterling. Ever since his first experiences in the Institute’s Adult Programs in the late 1980s, Sterling has admired the way the organization encourages learners of all ages to love of the natural world. In his free time, he takes every opportunity to hike, camp, fish, write poetry and enjoy the mountains with his wife, family and friends.

Yingzhao Liu
Facilitator, Founder of Original Mind Residency
Seattle, Washington

Yingzhao (Ying) Liu is grateful everyday to be growing roots in the Pacific Northwest. She is an integral facilitator, a mother to a 6-year-old, and a painter and printmaker. She also founded Original Mind creative residency in the Cascade foothills, lectured at Stanford University on Designing for Well-being, and was previously design director for international markets at LinkedIn. She began her fascination with group magic with Where There Be Dragons, forming and leading their experiential programs for American students in southwest China. Ying is native to mainland China and came to the U.S. at age 18–at home in liminal spaces and eventually found her tribe of global citizens, artists, and quiet revolutionaries who are transforming the world in countless ways of the fractal.

Meredith Lohr
Coach and Consultant, Golden Eye Advisors
Seattle, Washington

Meredith fell in love with the North Cascades on a backpacking trip when she was a teenager. She grew up in Baltimore, but the mountains called her west. Meredith brings decades of experience as a nonprofit leader and environmental educator to her board service. She is the founding Executive Director of EarthGen, a nonprofit that serves youth and communities across Washington to become changemakers for a healthy environment. Today, Meredith coaches and consults with individuals and organizations to support their growth and performance. She holds certificates in leadership coaching and nonprofit executive leadership from Northwestern University and UW, respectively, an MS in Geology from UC Santa Cruz, and a BS in Environmental Science from Evergreen. Meredith lives in Seattle with her husband and two college-age children. She loves to hike, ski, and travel and do what she can to make the world a better place.

Beau MacGregor
Owner, Manieri Motorworks LLC
Bellingham, Washington

As an Alaska native and long-time resident of western Washington, Beau has developed a lifelong passion for our local natural world. At a young age he served as a youth member of Skagit County Search and Rescue, a formative experience that fostered an early dedication to land conservation and environmental education. Beau believes that exposure to wilderness at a young age can foster a sense of stewardship, community and connection to place can define an individual throughout their life. Beau holds undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and Psychology from Western State College of Colorado and Western Washington University, respectively, and a Master’s of Architecture from the University of Washington. As an Architect, he has NGO design experience in East Africa, public education design experience in Washington State, and residential design experience in Colorado. In 2009, Beau founded Savino Manieri Holdings, a real estate and automotive investment firm based in Bellingham, WA. He is an avid all-weather hiker, cyclist, skier, living in Bellingham and Seattle.


Carter McBride, Vice Chair
Principal, The Three SSS's LLC
Woodinville, Washington

Carter McBride has over 30 years of banking, biopharmaceutical, and higher-education experience. He is a member of the Washington State Sierra Club's Executive Committee and past Wilderness Awareness School's Board of Trustees, Outdoor Afro's Board of Directors, and National Outdoor Leadership School's Advisory Council. Carter is also a graduate of WAS's Anake Outdoor School, NOLS' Instructor Course and a Boy Scouts of America Wood Badge Recipient. Carter’s immediate goal is to assist in the long-term sustainability of the Institute and act as a guide to further establish presence and position in moving the Institute forward while utilizing his professional background in marketing, multicultural inclusion and training that supports both the mission and strategic goals of the Institute. He graduated with a BS and MBA from the University of Central Oklahoma. Carter is an avid outdoors person, which includes primitive and traditional bushcraft skills while simultaneously embracing modern equipment and technology. Carter is grateful to live on both sides of the North Cascades in Twisp and Seattle, Washington.

Colleen McShane
Ecologist (retired)
Seattle, Washington

Colleen grew up in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and California and was happiest exploring the woods and creeks with her five siblings wherever they lived. She received a BA in biology from the University of Colorado, a MS in ecology from Washington State University and a MBA from the University of Washington. She started her career as an ecologist at Battelle PNW Laboratory in Richland and fell in love with the stark beauty of the shrub-steppe landscape and the Columbia River. After moving to Seattle, Colleen worked for several consulting companies as a field ecologist and project manager. Ultimately she landed at Seattle City Light as the Director of Natural Resources and Hydro Licensing overseeing environmental permitting and compliance work on the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. Now retired, Colleen is enjoying traveling, hiking, biking, reading and gardening.   

Martin Mehalchin
EVP, Integrated Loyalty Solutions
at Concentrix Catalyst
Seattle, Washington

Martin Mehalchin was raised in the Colorado Rockies and received a BA in International Affairs from University of Colorado. After earning his MBA at Cornell University and working as a consultant, Martin came to Seattle 11 years ago as a partner with Lenati, a Seattle-based marketing strategy firm. Inspired by the Institute’s work in the community, Martin began offering some pro-bono marketing advice, which ultimately led him to his joining the Board in 2013. He now chairs the Marketing Committee and is proud to collaborate with an organization that has pioneered a multidisciplinary approach to conserving and protecting natural environments through education. In his free time, Martin travels near and far, always trying to get outdoors as much as possible with his family.

Burr Neely
VP Business Development, Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI)
Deming, Washington

Burr has worked in the Cultural Resources Management industry for over 20 years and now serves as VP of Business Development for SRI, a global heritage management consultancy. He specializes in managing large and complex cultural resource inventory projects, with specific experience leading projects in the North Cascades. He holds an M.A. from University of Alaska Fairbanks focusing on cultural resources and environmental history. Burr has achieved national recognition for his business leadership and historic preservation advocacy work, where he has been past Vice President and is current chair of Government Relations Committee for the CRM industry’s national trade group, the American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA). Burr also stays active at the local-level and contributes time as a board and committee member of local organizations in Washington and Whatcom County where he offers his experience in nonprofit governance, organizational resiliency, land management issues, and grassroots advocacy initiatives. Burr lives in Deming, WA and has logged hundreds of miles hiking and backpacking in the North Cascades. His three kids (ages 14, 12, and 5) get all their good looks, smarts, and fine manners from his loving wife, Cindy, who helps spearhead all of the camping, rafting, and traveling family adventures.

Byron Ricks
Senior Director of Content and Communications Experience, Salesforce
Carnation, Washington

Byron is Director of Content & Communications Experience at Salesforce and a graduate of Grinnell College. For more than 30 years, Byron has written about adventure in the natural world and worked in technology, from writing websites for the Smithsonian and other museums to leading teams at Microsoft. Byron’s book, Homelands: Kayaking the Inside Passage, and assignments for such magazines as National Geographic Adventure, have taken him kayaking from Alaska to Seattle, dog sledding in Alaska’s Brooks Range, and paddling among the colossal icebergs off Newfoundland. Byron believes that direct experience with wild places is enriching and transformative, and he's committed to sharing these opportunities with others. Byron chairs the Governance Committee, which defines board responsibilities and manages board recruitment. In his spare time, Byron's skill with the accordion comes in handy when he and his wife host Soundfalls, a show of live performance in the Snoqualmie Valley. He also aims to keep his surf ski upright during the annual Ski to Sea race in Bellingham.

Denice Rochelle
Founder and Director, The Bronze Chapter
Bow, Washington

Denice was born in Seattle and has remained in the area because of the unique nature of Washington’s oceanic, temperate rainforest, and desert climates. Washington has it all - and yet she rarely crosses paths with other Black and Brown people in her travels and outdoor activities. That’s why she formed, a 501c3 nonprofit that creates community at the intersection of identity and the outdoors. As the organization’s Director, she strives to offer unique opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and people of color to learn about stewardship, conservation, and preservation of outdoor and wilderness spaces through skill-sharing, skill progressions, and safety education. Denice loves animals and board games, traveling and playing, camping and Happy Hour, and brings youthful and spirited enthusiasm and ambition to help underrepresented communities of color experience transformative learning experiences in nature.

George Sanders, Treasurer
Western Washington University (retired)
Bellingham, Washington

George Sanders taught accounting and financial management in not-for-profit entities and other accounting classes at Western Washington University until June 2017. He received a BS in Zoology from LSU, an MBA from the University of New Orleans and a PhD in business administration with an accounting emphasis from the University of Alabama in 1989. George has published research dealing with governmental accounting, the audit market, and accounting regulation in a number of academic and professional journals. Before starting his academic career, he worked as a field biologist for BioOceanic Research, Inc., a company that provided biodiversity assessments and pollution data for the waters off the coast of Louisiana. George enjoys traveling, kayaking, hiking, skiing, scuba, photography and competing in dog agility trials.

Nina Smith
Principal, 8484 Architecture
Seattle, Washington

Nina was born and raised in Seattle. After undergraduate years at Princeton, Nina moved to New York and received an M.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from Hunter College, CUNY. Following a decade of life in the fine arts in New York and San Francisco, Nina moved to Los Angeles for a Master of Architecture degree from Southern California Institute of Architecture. After years living in Milan and San Francisco, Nina is delighted to be back in the Pacific Northwest. Swimming, hiking, skiing, and gardening enforce her love of the outdoors and her gratitude for the healing powers and inspiration offered by the natural world.

Brad Tuininga, Chair
Vice President of Philanthropy, Whatcom Community Foundation
Bellingham, Washington

Prior to joining Whatcom Community Foundation as their Vice President of Philanthropy, Brad served as the Executive Director of Skagit Valley College Foundation, Resource Development Director for North Cascades Institute, Development Director for Bellingham Technical College Foundation, and Director of Operations and Development at Whatcom Community College Foundation. Before joining the Institute's board in 2021, Brad completed 7 years of service as a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Advancement Northwest, and he currently serves as a board member for the Northwest Washington Estate Planning Council and leads the Skagit Estate Planning Seminars committee. Brad is a graduate of the Institute’s Graduate Residency program, graduating with the 3rd cohort in 2005. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys being active and spending time outside hiking, biking, and skiing with his wife, Jenny and their two daughters, Campbell and Elise.

Mona West, Secretary
Startup Advisor and Fractional CMO
Bend, Oregon

Mona West has over 15 years of consumer product and retail marketing experience. She graduated with a BA from Yale University and an MBA from the Darden Business School/University of Virginia. Mona also serves on The Mountaineers advisory council. She's an avid hiker, scrambler and international adventure traveler, and lives in Oregon.

Advisory Council

Saul Weisberg
Executive Director Emeritus

Saul Weisberg “graduated" from his role as executive director and co-founder of North Cascades Institute, on June 30, 2021 after 35 years! He is a poet, ecologist, naturalist and writer who has explored the mountains and rivers of the Pacific Northwest for more than 45 years. Saul worked throughout the Northwest as a field biologist, fire lookout, commercial fisherman and National Park Service climbing ranger before starting the Institute in 1986. He is the author of Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes, From the Mountains to the Sea, North Cascades: The Story behind the Scenery, and with many other works. Saul served on the board of directors of the Association of Nature Center Administrators, the Natural History Network and the Environmental Education Association of Washington, and regularly consults on issues of nonprofit leadership, outdoor learning and conservation. Saul and his family live near the shores of the Salish Sea in Bellingham, Washington.

Thomas Lowe Fleischner, PhD
Prescott College, AZ

Richard Louv
Author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

John Miles, PhD
Professor and Author

Robert Michael Pyle, PhD
Author, Conservationist and Lepidopterist