Board + Staff


Save the Wild U.P. Board

    • Steve Garske, Secretary
    • Gail Griffith
    • Kathleen Heideman, President
    • Jon Saari, Vice President
    • Chip Truscon, Treasurer

Save the Wild U.P. Advisory Board

    • Margaret Comfort
    • Al Gedicks
    • Keith Glendon
    • Michelle Halley
    • Jeffery Loman
    • Richard Sloat
    • Abbey Palmer
    • Diane White Husic
    • Evan Zimmerman

Save the Wild U.P. Executive Director

    •  Alexandra Thebert

Steve Garske | Marenisco, Mich. 

Steve received a B.S. degree in Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth. His M.S. project involved the study of an invasive Eurasian plant, which had spread from a former resort site to cover an entire hillside near the shore of Basswood Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. He has nearly 20 years of experience as a field botanist. A resident of Gogebic County since 1990, Steve enjoys being out in the woods and wetlands, as well as gardening, fishing, snowshoeing and trying to keep his two old VW diesels running. 

Gail Griffith | Marquette, Mich.

Dr. Griffith retired as Professor of Chemistry at Northern Michigan University. She taught courses in environmental and biochemical toxicology, and developed curriculum in environmental and occupational hygiene. Griffith completed undergraduate work at Michigan Technological University, and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. She studied further at the University of California, Davis, and was an EPA fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later, she served on the Michigan Toxic Substances Control Commission, the K.I. Sawyer Restoration Advisory Board, the Marquette Board of Light and Power, and the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority. She has participated in the public oversight of mining of metallic sulfide ores in the U.P. since Kennecott first proposed the Eagle Project.

Ron Henriksen | Vulcan, Mich.

Ron and Carol Henriksen lived and worked in the Chicago area before retiring in the Upper Peninsula. In 2003, they joined the Front 40 citizen group to oppose an open pit mining proposal on the Menominee River, west of Stephenson, because of the potential contamination of ground and surface water as well as the air. In 2012, the mining project was suspended indefinitely. The Front 40 continues to educate the public about the threat of new metal mining, as well as the value of the Menominee River, the Upper Peninsula’s largest river. Through his work with the Front 40, Ron joined the Save the Wild U.P. Board of Directors.

Kathleen Heideman | Marquette, Mich.

Heideman is a writer and artist based in Upper Michigan. As a fellow of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists & Writers Program, she was privileged to observe scientists conducting research at remote field camps, from Antarctic sea ice to the South Pole. During the past decade, she completed a dozen artist residencies with watersheds, research stations, private foundations, and the Park Service — including Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She is working on a collection of poetry entitled Departments of the Interior. Heideman’s creative work investigates landscape and environmental concerns, and has received recognition from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, The Loft, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is renovating an historic 1870s brick cottage, to serve as her studio. She owns tools and won’t hesitate to use them.

Kristi Mills | Big Bay, Mich.
Mills is a graduate of Northern Michigan University with a degree in Outdoor Recreation, majoring in Geography and Social Studies. In 1981, she started the Big Bear Touring Company – the first x-country skiing and mountain biking tour company in the Upper Peninsula and ran tours for several seasons. Mills returned to NMU to obtain an Elementary Teaching Certificate and taught in the Marquette area schools for over 15 years. In 2002, she partnered in the purchase of Big Bay Outfitters – a recreational outfitter, specializing in locally made products, artwork, maps and information. Mills served as SWUP Director for 4 years and is committed to protecting Michigan’s natural resources for the enjoyment of her son, daughter, 2 grandchildren and all those who seek the solitude of a UP forest, water source or mountain top.

Jon Saari | Marquette, Mich.

An emeritus professor of History at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, Jon has traveled widely and lived in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China while researching and teaching modern Chinese history, third world history, historiography, and Finnish immigration. A Fin-Yooper, he joined the Save the Wild U.P. Board in 2007 with an interest in bridging our rich labor history with our current fight protecting our communities and environment. He shares a second home on a mountain farm in Austria with his wife of 45+ years and their two sons, and three grandchildren.

Chip Truscon | Marquette, Mich.

[Bio coming soon!]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Comfort | Michigamme, Mich.

Margaret was a mechanical engineer specializing in fuel economy and automotive emission controls for the auto industry. She also worked as a research analyst for the government, owned and operated a transitional-organic farm and B&B, and is currently working as a Physician Assistant with a background in oncology. She hails from downstate, has previously volunteered for several grassroots citizen groups, including one that successfully stopped a landfill for out-of-region waste from being sited next to a river. Her special interest is environmental/social justice and health.

Al Gedicks | La Crosse, Wisc.

Al Gedicks is an environmental sociologist and Indigenous rights activist and scholar. He has written extensively about Indigenous and popular resistance to ecologically destructive mining and oil projects. In 1977 he founded the Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy and assisted the Mole Lake Sokaogon Ojibwe Tribe in successfully resisting Exxon’s proposed zinc sulfide mine upstream from the tribe’s sacred wild rice beds. He has made several documentary films about the history and culture of mining communities in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, including Keepers of the Water, about the Crandon mine battle. He is emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (www.wrpc.net).

Keith Glendon | Marquette, Mich.

Keith Glendon has worked over the past fifteen years as a consultant, principal, technical practice leader, regional services manager and global program director for two global multinational technology firms.  In these roles, he has developed deep skills in business strategy, consulting, solution development and management, sales, services delivery, personnel management, team-building, facilitation and negotiation. Prior to his career in international business, Keith was a unit communications manager in the US Army, stationed in Germany where he developed strong management, process and team leadership skills. A graduate of the Northern Michigan University College of Business, Keith attained his Bachelor of Science in a combined Business and CIS major – Summa Cum Laude. An avid runner, skier, surfer and all-around lover of the outdoors, he is a father of two and when not working can often be found running around in nature with his daughters, laughing a lot.

Jeffery Loman | L’Anse Indian Reservation, Mich. 

Jeffery Loman is a former U.S. Navy Aquanaut and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Diver. He  is a graduate of the University of California San Diego, CHMM, and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard JFK School of Government. Mr. Loman also has more than 20-years of Federal environmental management and regulatory experience that includes supervising operations at RCRA Part B TSDF’s, bio remediation facility operation, hazardous substance spill response and 10-years as the Chief, Natural Resources with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He recently served as the Deputy Director at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Alaska Region. Jeffery retired from Federal civil service in December 2012, as a Senior Special Advisor with the Department of the Interior. Currently, Jeffery Loman operates Keweenaw Konsulting, a firm that exclusively provides environmental and natural resource management and training to Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages. Jeffery was born on the L’Anse Indian Reservation and is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Richard Sloat | Iron River, Mich.

Richard Sloat was born and raised in Iron River, Michigan, and has lived a majority of his life in the U.P. Growing up, Rich witnessed the destruction and pollution caused by mining and became part of the “way it is” syndrome, working a year at the Groveland Mine. As a survivor of the boom-bust period created by the mining industry in the County, he now understands there must be a solution to the problem. He also understands we are all part of the problem and asks, “How can we touch the Earth gently?” A Surveyor’s Assistant by trade, he is familiar with a variety of places off the beaten path that need to be preserved. Rich is passionate about protecting the beauty and wonders of nature, and most especially the water, for future generations and the health of the Earth.

Diane White Husic | Bethlehem, Penn.

Diane White Husic received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Northern Michigan University and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Michigan State University (1986). She is an author on over 40 publications and has contributed to a number of reports – including an ecological assessment of a Superfund site, the 2011 PA Climate Change Adaptation report, and the Council on Undergraduate Research publication “Transformative Research at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions.” She has attended the international COP meetings as an official delegate for the past four years and serves as on the international steering committee for the Research and Independent NGOs constituency group (RINGOs). Over the past few years, she’s participated in the Keck/PKAL Facilitating Interdisciplinary Learning Project and was honored as an Audubon TogetherGreen Fellow in Conservation Leadership. She serves on the boards for the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, is the research coordinator for the Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge, and is involved with grant-funded projects for the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, home to a NOAA-funded “Science on a Sphere.”

Alexandra Thebert | Marquette, Mich.

A fifth generation Yooper (and Finn!), Alexandra graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor’s in Urban Planning and Public Policy. She worked for several years in Chicago for a national health-care justice nonprofit before moving back home to the northwoods. She has given talks, organized events, and raised money all across the nation to highlight working class issues. When she found her favorite favorite childhood fishing holes were dangerously contaminated with mercury, she began volunteering with SWUP, and came on as Executive Director in January, 2013. When not working to preserve and improve the health, culture, and environment of the U.P., you’ll find her out in the woods or by the lake.