Misty Boos, Executive Director
Misty Boos received a Master of Environmental Planning degree from the University of Tasmania and a BS in Sociology with an emphasis on Environmental Studies from Southern Oregon University. She took the reigns at Wild Virginia in 2013 and has over 20 years of experience in the environmental, non-profit sector. Misty can’t imagine doing anything but trying to fight to protect the environment, and she is particularly passionate about ensuring that we protect the ecosystems that support us all. She loves helping people find effective ways to protect the places they care about. Her favorite place in the world is in a river, on a hot summer day, with good friends.
David Sligh, Conservation Director
David Sligh has worked for 35 years to make the promises of our environmental laws real. He has consistently and successfully pushed private parties and government agencies to base their actions on science, law, and the public interest. He has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, a law degree from Vermont Law School, and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. Dave has worked as a Senior Environmental Engineer for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Founder and Director of Virginia PEER – the state branch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Southeast Regional Representative for American Rivers, Upper James Riverkeeper, adjunct instructor of Environmental Science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and as a consultant and advisor to citizen groups around the country.
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Bette Dzamba – Chair Outings and Education/Vice President
Bette Dzamba has loved hiking for as long as she can remember. She first became involved with Wild Virginia as a hike leader in order to share the fun of spending time “playing outside” with others. She believes that the more people spend time in wild places like the George Washington National Forest the more they will feel the value of such places and know the importance of protecting them.
In the winter of 2010 Bette and her partner David Sellers spent three months living in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park as volunteers for the Yellowstone Association Institute. They supported field seminars that the Institute holds at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch. Closer to home they are Virginia Master Naturalists and the trail maintainers for the Wildcat Ridge trail in Shenandoah National park.
Bette has a PhD in cell and molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin. She currently works in the Cell Biology Department at UVA trying to understand morphogenesis: the cellular movements that create form.
Leigh Kirchner – Treasurer
Leigh’s proud to serve Wild Virginia—an organization dedicated to protecting and connecting her favorite wild places. She grew up in beautiful Rockbridge County in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley where she developed her love for nature by spending time in the woods, creeks, and cow pastures near her home.
After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.A. in English, Leigh moved to Boone, NC, to earn her M.A. in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University. For nearly five years, she put her degrees to use as a fundraising professional with the environmental advocacy organization Appalachian Voices—which often partners with Wild Virginia on issues related to environmental protection. Leigh took on a new role in mid-2020 as the Director of Development and Donor Relations at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. The Food Bank serves people in need across 25 counties and 8 cities in central and western Virginia, including those who live near the waterways, mountains, and other wild places Wild Virginia preserves.
Kate is an environmentalist, an advocate, and a farmer who feels strongly that we must preserve our planet and its biodiversity for future generations. She is drawn to the ways in which better, responsible policy can solve larger problems of human and environmental health and the many related equity issues. Kate has specific interest in chemical and hazmat pollution to air and water, and resultant human and environmental health consequences and solutions.
Drawn to Wild Virginia while following their efforts to stop pipelines in Virginia, Kate has appreciated the breadth of the policy and advocacy work the organization has achieved despite its small size. Kate graduated from Dartmouth College and completed a Master of Environmental Law and Policy degree from Vermont Law School.
Elise received a Master of Nonprofit Leadership/Development from the University of Lynchburg in 2019 and a BA in International Relations and French with an emphasis on the Global South. As a Togolese American Elise has a lot of passion for giving back to her community through service. Elise’s passion for the environment reached its peak after she attended the 2014 People’s Climate March in NYC. As a first-year student in college and a first-generation college student, she wanted to learn as much as she could about the world she lives in. This led her to bring back an environmental society on her college campus and promoting a sustainable lifestyle through vegan food and social justice.
In her current role, Elise works to help her alma mater advance education and enjoys giving back to her community in various ways. Elise is passionate about animal welfare, access to clean water, housing and much more. She looks forward to helping to preserve the natural habitat that is all around us so that future generations might also enjoy it.
Jamie Trost – Chair Development Team
As the Port Captain for Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, Jamie Trost often sees the world from the decks of the brig Lady Washington, but when he’s not on the water you’ll typically find him in the woods.
Before moving to Virginia, Jamie explored some of the world’s more far-flung regions. Growing up on the South Shore of Lake Erie, he spent much of his childhood in the woods and on the waters of Northwestern Pennsylvania. But his wanderlust sent him to Wilmington, North Carolina for a degree in Professional and Creative Writing, and then to the rolling hills and mountains of Okayama, Japan, where he taught English for two years in the remote farming town of Bisei-Cho, the Town of Beautiful Stars. When school wasn’t in session, Jamie explored far-flung cultures and landscapes throughout Asia, writing travel pieces for Time Asia along the way.
Traveling home via Madagascar and Southern Africa, Jamie returned to the Great Lakes and joined the Schooner Inland Seas, a Tall Ship offering environmental science programming in Northern Lake Michigan. He spent the past two decades as a sailor, educator, and captain aboard some of the finest traditional ships in the United States, including the Schooner Pride of Baltimore II. Jamie sailed as a Captain of Pride II for seven years, and during his time ashore did some extensive grant writing and spearheaded the development of Pride of Baltimore, Inc.’s first underway education programming.
Based in Harrisonburg, Jamie is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) and served as guide and interpreter for ANFT leadership on an 18-day exploration of Japan’s Health and Therapy Forests in 2017.
Grace is proud to serve on the board of Wild Virginia, the organization that sparked her entry into the movement to protect Virginia’s communities and ecosystems. She started by attending a book club and loved the welcoming feeling of Wild Virginia events and their focus on learning. Grace then became a volunteer with Wild Virginia’s Outings & Education and Communications Committees, which she still very much enjoys. She spends every free second tucking native plants into her garden, seeding flowers, listening to podcasts, baking or enjoying a book from atop her kayak. During her time at the University of Virginia, while studying Public Health, Grace was a Co-Captain of the UVA Women’s Rowing Team and her love of water was set in stone.
For several years after graduating, Grace worked for Region Ten Community Services Board in Charlottesville as a Support Coordinator for adults with developmental disabilities. Grace is now the Coordinator of Protect Our Water Heritage Rights (POWHR), where she works as a grassroots community organizer to stop the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure from further harming Appalachian communities, lands and waters. Grace has a particular fondness for bats, birds, bears, and salamanders and loves to see them in Western Virginia where she currently lives.
Ryan Wagener – President
Ryan grew up playing in the woods behind his house in Northern New Jersey, and remembers taking his first hikes with his family in the Ramapo Mountains. He went to college in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, where he soon found himself spending as much time as possible outdoors–much of it rowing on the waters of Cayuga Lake. After graduating with a degree in Economics, Ryan moved to Northern Virginia and joined the world of federal contracting. He now enjoys taking his kids on hikes each weekend, and tries to spend as much time with his family in the Blue Ridge mountains as possible. Ryan found Wild Virginia after becoming active in the fight against the pipelines threatening Virginia’s public lands, and was drawn to the organization’s focus on both education and advocacy. He looks forward to working with Wild Virginia to help reconnect those of us in Northern Virginia with our public forests, mountains, and waterways.
Lil Williams [Elizabeth Kennon Williams, MD]
Lil has been a life-long lover of nature. She grew up in Richmond, Va, and spent her summers either on a farm on the Chesapeake Bay or in the mountains of North Carolina, at a camp that sent the 12-13 year old girls out on 5 day backpacking trips with only sleeping bags as nighttime covers since tents were ‘too heavy’ for us to carry! The air, beauty, and natural life of both the bay environment and the South Eastern forests, deeply informed her childhood.
She graduated from Antioch College with a multidisciplinary degree in Botany/Latin American Studies and Modern Dance. After studying History of Science at the University of Kentucky, Lil began medical studies in her late 20’s at the University of Virginia. During her 30 year practice in Pediatrics in Charlottesville, an area of special interest was adolescents, especially teens and young adults with adjustment concerns, depression, eating disorders.
Lil retired a few years ago. Combining her love for Nature and years of professional focus on the healthy and happy future for all children, she has found Wild Virginia to be a wonderful organization to volunteer for. Wild Virginia, by providing multiple opportunities for the community to engage with our beautiful forests and advocating for the vulnerable ancient and splendid forest ecosystems, plays an invaluable role in today’s challenge of the threatened natural world.
Jessica Wen – Net Impact Board Fellow through UVA
Jessica Wen is a current 2nd-year student at the University of Virginia, majoring in Computer Science and looking to earn a Commerce degree from the McIntire School of Commerce. She has lived in Virginia for 20 years and has always loved spending time with the beautiful wildlife this state has to offer. As a university student, she enjoys taking advantage of Charlottesville’s beautiful hikes and spending as much time in the outdoors as she can in between her classes. She is very excited and honored to be Wild Virginia’s Net Board Impact Fellow this year, and she is looking forward to working in communicating this organization’s mission and helping reestablish a close connection between Virginia’s beautiful landscape with the people and wildlife that call it home.