Misty Boos, Executive Director
Misty Boos received a Master of Environmental Planning degree from the University of Tasmania in 2006 and a BS in Sociology with emphasis on Environmental Studies from Southern Oregon University. She has extensive experience in the non-profit sector working on research projects and in the field for many environmental organizations. She has been an active participant and leader for Wild Virginia outings and completed training as a Virginia Master Naturalist. She spends every free second outside with her dog.
Misty spent many years studying, travelling and living abroad and this time has given her a global perspective on environmental issues that she tries to apply to her efforts with us locally in Virginia. Misty particularly loves working with volunteers helping them apply their unique skills and experience to help further Wild Virginia’s mission.
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
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.
Sarah has lived in Virginia for over 30 years, and spends much of her free time exploring and enjoying the many outdoor recreational opportunities Virginia has to offer. She is passionate about conservation and environmental welfare, and seeks out opportunities to advance those causes whenever possible – including by volunteering with Wild Virginia since 2017. Sarah brings to the Wild Virginia Board 13 years of experience in corporate law and nonprofit executive board experience. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business for a Sustainable Future with a Marketing emphasis from Mary Baldwin University, an Associate’s Degree in Education from Lord Fairfax Community College, and a Paralegal Certificate from George Mason University.
In her full-time career, she works hard in her role on the Land Management team at Apex Clean Energy in Charlottesville, Virginia to expand clean, renewable wind and solar energy across the country. Sarah also spends time volunteering for the Marketing Committee of the Charlottesville Renewable Energy Alliance.
Katie Keller – Chair Outreach and Publicity Team
Katie has always preferred the outdoors growing up, playing on the neighboring farm, spending time on the Potomac River, or hiking the Appalachian trail. She received a Bachelors Degree in Social Work / Minor in Anthropology from James Madison University, where she worked as a group counselor for an alternative wilderness school, solidifying her love of nature and community. She also spent a good amount of time in the George Washington National Forest identifying wildlife, hiking, and camping. Katie has gained experience in a variety of non-profit organizations to include administration and counseling for free clinics, refugee resettlement, veterans, and other outreach organizations.
After moving to Charlottesville, Katie has focused her environmental efforts on sustainable alternatives when it comes to consumer choices and brainstorming educational methods to keep the planet clean for future generations. She is very excited to be a part of a team that combines conservation, education, and collaboration to preserve Virginia’s wildlife and natural resources.
If you can’t find Katie enjoying what the earth has to offer, she is probably knitting, crafting, or dancing at live music!
Leigh was born and raised in beautiful Rockbridge County in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. She developed her love for nature at a young age by spending time in the woods, creeks, and cow pastures near her home. Leigh’s love for animals of all kinds was passed down through the generations of family before her.
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. She’s fortunate to be able to put her degrees to use as a full-time fundraising professional based in the Charlottesville, VA, office of the nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, Appalachian Voices—which often partners with Wild Virginia on issues related to environmental protection.
Because she’s never happier than when she’s taking her dog on a walk in the woods, Leigh’s proud to serve Wild Virginia—an organization dedicated to protecting and connecting her (and her dog’s) favorite wild places.
Esther Rekhelman – Net Impact Board Fellow
Ester is a second year student at the University of Virginia studying Environmental Chemistry and Global Sustainability. She hails from Brooklyn, New York, and her passion for environmentalist work was sparked rather recently when she moved to Charlottesville for school. After leaving the urban mecca that is New York, she fell in love with the Shenandoah Valley and began looking into ways to preserve the natural landscape of the world. Ester tries to advocate for sustainable living throughout her various involvements, such as her role as a university tour guide as well as in her Jewish community, and in the future she hopes to go into urban sustainability to help people who live and grow up in cities, like herself, learn what role they can play in saving the environment.
David Sellers – Secretary
David was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where fishing trips with his father to bass and bluegill ponds and the big Lake Michigan introduced him to the natural world. He came south to Charlottesville, Virginia with fellow Board member Bette Dzamba in 1997, after living in proximity to some of the more beautiful parts of the northern U.S., in Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.
David enjoys frequent hikes in the Virginia mountains, and less frequently paddling the local streams and the tidewater areas around Chesapeake Bay. He first joined Wild Virginia after one of our hikes and now leads outings and is a member of Wild Virginia’s Outings and Education Committee.
David is also a Virginia Master Naturalist and a trail overseer with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club in Shenandoah National Park. David has spent his working career in the air pollution field, first for the federal government and state agencies, and now working as an environmental consultant in Charlottesville.
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 Community Planning Associate for the Green Infrastructure Center in Charlottesville, VA, Jamie Trost works to incorporate nature into urban storm water management, personal health, and other aspects of urban design. He is currently enrolled in the Masters of Urban and Environmental Planning program at UVa.
Before moving to Virginia, Jamie explored some of the worlds 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 next 17 years 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.
Since moving to Staunton, Jamie has focused his attention on the woods and inland waters of the Shenandoah Valley. In 2017, he became a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through 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.
Ryan Wagener – Interim 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.