Fran Barnes is the Assistant Director of The Elements DC– a winter after-school enrichment program in DC area parks for children K-5th grade. Fran has built a career in educational programming and curriculum development. She has served for the past four years on the Board of the Parents Council of Washington, the last three as Program Co-Chair. She has also been a tutor for Reading Partners in the DC Public School System for the past two years. In 2015 she co-founded the Climate Change Coaching Group whose mission is to empower participants to use their individual strengths, skills and interests to take concrete action to combat climate change. Fran lives in Washington, DC with her husband. Fran enjoys spending time with her family, chasing an elusive PR for a half marathon and coaxing her small back alley into a verdant garden.
Executive Director and President
Sarah joined City Kids Wilderness Project in November 2017. She has extensive strategic business planning and project management background. Prior to joining City Kids, she worked with local and national charter and district schools, foundations, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit service providers with a mission focused on improving education and life outcomes for underserved children. Sarah has also consulted with the D.C. Public Schools to implement evidence-based mental health intervention pilot programs, research successful national pilot interventions, and evaluate program outcomes through data-driven metrics. Sarah holds a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College.
Maria Damon serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Environment for Development (EfD) Initiative, an environmental economics institute focused on research, policy, and academic programs in developing countries. Dr. Damon is widely published in the fields of environmental policy, green growth, and development economics. Prior to joining EfD, Damon was on the faculty at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, San Diego and an A.B. in Economics from Cornell University. She also completed a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) doctoral program on marine biodiversity and conservation with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Prior to NYU, Damon was an Assistant Professor at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. She also served a one-year appointment as the Staff Economist for Environment and Regulation at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and worked as a researcher at The World Bank’s Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America. Maria lives in Wilson, WY with her husband and 3-year old son.
Gerry de Leon
Gerry de Leon is a controller at Vanguard Communications, a PR and social marketing firm working to open hearts and minds about issues and individuals, and realize a more inclusive and equitable world. Gerry has a BS in Accounting from the University of Maryland. Gerry also serves on the board of Cuba Skate.
Tom Holland is the president and CEO of Wilderness Adventures, a worldwide summer camp program. An award-winning educator, Tom spent three years teaching social studies at the secondary level before he left the classroom to work for the Teton Valley Ranch Camp Education Foundation. After two years on the team, he was named the Executive Director, a role he held for six years. In 2013, he went on to work for the American Camp Association and held the roles of Chief Foundation Officer and Chief Executive Officer. Known as a leading expert on the camp experience, Tom has spoken at both national and international conferences on youth development, the camp experience and children in the outdoors. He holds a B.A. in secondary education and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Tom and his wife Catherine live in Jackson Hole with their four children.
Rachel Lettre has worked in the outdoor industry for over 20 years specializing in program development, partnership building, risk management, and staff management. Rachel’s experience includes engaging underserved populations in urban communities, designing and delivering training, creating innovative partnerships and assessing risk in programs. Rachel has served as an external Safety Reviewer for Outward Bound and is currently working with MobilizeGreen to develop and deliver Youth Conservation Corps programs for diverse high school age students. Previously, Rachel spent 17 years at the Student Conservation Association in various leadership positions and most recently served as the Eastern Regional Program Director. In this role, she worked collaboratively with federal, state and local land management agencies, non-profit organizations, and partner organizations to develop and run innovative conservation service programs throughout the Eastern US. Prior to SCA, Rachel worked as an environmental and outdoor educator in residential, backcountry and urban settings. Rachel received a B.A. in Outdoor Recreation and Resource Management from Indiana University and a postgraduate degree in Outdoor Education from Edinburgh University.
Amy Patel moved to Jackson, WY in 2014 with her husband and three children after living in Washington, DC for over 20 years. She earned her BA at Trinity College, CT and her MBA at the University of MD. She worked at the Smithsonian Institution, US Auto Manufacturing Trade Association and US Airways, where she helped develop the first generation web sites to book travel and airport kiosks. Currently, she takes care of her three school age children. In her free time, Amy enjoys hiking and skiing. Amy also serves on the board of the Doug Coombs Foundation in Jackson, WY.
John Sachs recently retired as a partner at Latham & Watkins, one of the largest law firms in the world. As co-founder of Latham’s Global Project Development and Finance Practice, he represented developers, lenders and governments in the development, financing and acquisition of large infrastructure projects in the US and other countries, including power projects, oil and gas projects, water projects and transportation projects. In recent years, he focused heavily on renewable energy projects and participated in the development and financing of hundreds of wind power, solar power, geothermal power and hydroelectric power projects all over the world. John is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.
John is a third generation Washingtonian with a keen interest in hiking, biking and skiing. He, his wife Lynn and their two twenty-something boys have travelled extensively, including recent trips to hike the Inca Trail and the glaciers of Patagonia.
P. Kevin Smith
P. Kevin Smith is Managing Partner of Invictus Advisory Group, LLC. Kevin is a proven leader with success in Commercial and Public Sector ventures with deep technical competence, analytic skill and ability to quickly produce results. He has traveled extensively throughout the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa; growing start-up ventures; driving revenue for various Fortune 100 companies; successfully implementing solutions and strategies for numerous Public and Private sector entities (Accenture and Computer Sciences Corporation). Most recently, Kevin joined the founding team of LTU technologies (in 2005) and grew the company’s revenue from nascent start-up to significant annual sales and profitability; ultimately leading the company to acquisition by JASTEC, Inc (TSE: 9117).
A graduate of Morehouse College, presenter/participate in various advanced leadership and training programs at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is regularly cited in business trade journals and endeavors to consistently share industry subject matter expertise at various conferences and speaking engagements.
Kevin is a Member of Urban Land Institute, serves on the Board of Directors of Brainfood DC, and the Emerson College Preparatory School of Washington, DC.
Mary Speyer has been involved in political fundraising for more than twenty years and has worked on various campaigns, operated her own business and participated in grassroots lobbying efforts. Mary has experience in fundraising, project development, event planning, and marketing. Her most recent activities include extensive travel to Tanzania, where she and her daughter co-founded a non-profit organization to build schools, promote early childhood educational programs and support infrastructure projects in rural villages throughout Arusha, Tanzania.
She has also been involved in major fundraising endeavors for The Sidwell Friends School. She currently serves on the boards of various organizations based in Washington, D.C. and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She oversees the philanthropic activities of the Alexander C. and Tillie S. Speyer Foundation based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is an avid hiker, marathoner and outdoor enthusiast. Ms. Speyer resides in Washington, D.C. and Jackson Hole, Wyoming with her husband, Jim Speyer and their three children.
As a dual graduate from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX with a B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Public Administration and a Masters of Education from Ashford University, Vanessa Torres currently serves as the Deputy Director of Visitor Services, Education and Volunteers at Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois.
Vanessa has aided in developing a variety of outreach programs bridging the gap between diverse communities and their local national green space. Torres also participated in the development of the NPS Academy – a pilot program that brings together diverse college students for a weeklong spring break training to expose students to public lands and potential careers within the NPS, placing them in internships for the summer.
Prior to working with the National Park Service, Torres worked for the 21st Century Leadership Center at St. Mary’s University as a Student Community Leader working to bridge the gap between the local San Antonio community and the university. She also worked as a Policy Intern for Methodist Healthcare Ministries, also in San Antonio, TX. Vanessa works to establish new partnerships in youth outreach and to connect underserved students and diverse populations to national parks in their backyard.
Lisa serves as the Attendance Control Officer with the United States Postal Service, and also has a separate venture in the health and wellness field. Her son is a City Kids program alumnus and a recent college graduate. As a City Kids parent, Lisa brings a welcome voice to the Board. She has been a consistent City Kids advocate and volunteer ever since her son started in the program. Lisa has also been a long time City Kids ambassador at USPS, hosting giving campaigns to benefit City Kids through the United Way / CFC.
Dhivya is a Portfolio Manager for Education Grantmaking at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. She supports the Equity by Design portfolio, focused on promoting equity in schools. Dhivya brings over ten years of experience in supporting education and social impact organizations to address their most pressing strategy and talent challenges.
Before joining the Foundation, Dhivya worked as an independent education consultant for two years and was an Associate Partner on Bellwether Education Partners’ Strategic and Talent Advising teams for five years. Dhivya worked with a range of education organizations including nonprofit organizations, school districts, charter management organizations networks, and foundations, strengthening efforts to improve outcomes for under-served students in the United States. Prior to Bellwether, Dhivya worked at IBM Global Business Solutions in its public-sector division. Dhivya advised federal clients, such as the Navy and EPA, on improving their core operations and financial management systems. In addition, Dhivya worked in international development, assisting governments with initiatives in economic development, health care, and education.
Dhivya holds master’s degrees in public policy and business administration from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University. She is an alumna of the Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellowship.
E. Adams Miller