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
    • Richard Sloat
    • Abbey Palmer
    • Diane White Husic
    • Evan Zimmerman

Save the Wild U.P. Staff 

    • Alexandra Thebert, Executive Director
    • Alexandra Maxwell, Outreach Coordinator

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.

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 renovated an 1870s brick cottage, to serve as her studio. She owns tools and won’t hesitate to use them.

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.

Chip Truscon is a passionate advocate for public and environmental health. He received a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from University of Michigan. Truscon’s diverse background includes research for the Arctic Institute of North America, adjunct and associate professor positions at Catherine McCauley Health Center and the University of Michigan Hospitals, and experience as a program training specialist in the Extracorporeal Life Support Program, University of Michigan Medical School. Working extensively in the nonprofit sector, Truscon served on the boards of local, state and national organizations. He earned Raiser’s Edge Donor Management certification from Blackbaud University, and a Fundraising Management Certificate from Indiana University’s School of Philanthropy. He was a founding board member of Marquette Symphony Orchestra, and chaired the Marketing Committee for the 1999 Marquette Sesquicentennial, which resulted in the building of a new Presque Isle pavilion. As an entrepreneur, Truscon opened the Upper Great Lakes’ first internet cafe — Marquette’s Internet Bagel Cafe — based on a business model of heightened responsibility and community give-back, and Web Media Works, a full service company offering design, programming and shopping cart construction. Truscon is an avid kayaker, tele-skier, road biker, mountain biker, and snow biker. He is a docent at the Marquette Regional History Center where he portrays historic Marquette characters for bus tours, gallery tours and school programs, and was a cast member in the Tyler Tichelaar play, Willpower.

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 (

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.

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 joined 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.

Alexandra Maxwell | Marquette, Mich. 


Alexandra moved to the U.P. in 2008. She has a B.S. in Sociology and Native American Studies from Northern Michigan University and has been working as a massage therapist since 2006. Alexandra grew up on a small farm in Lower Michigan and has always had a strong connection to the outdoors. Environmental conservation and activism have always been close to her heart, so joining the staff of Save the Wild U.P. was an easy choice. When she isn’t hosting lectures or co-leading hikes for SWUP, Alexandra can be found with her friends, playing music, dabbling in photography or practicing yoga.