Meet Our Staff
Coalition staff include our Executive Director, Associate Director, Conservation Science Director, and Operations and Finance Director, and a rotating paid Desert Wildlife Intern. Several member groups have staff members who dedicate their time to Coalition work, and many individuals from the community at-large donate their time and energy to make the numerous and ambitious projects of the Coalition possible. We have a stellar Board of Directors and an Advisory Committee that provides input on program areas and issue positions.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Throughout the 30+ years that I have called Tucson home, I have been a passionate voice for Sonoran Desert land and wildlife conservation. I helped found the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection in 1998, responding to a need for a unified voice to advocate for the implementation of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Over the last 20 years, under my leadership, the Coalition has become the lead environmental advocate and facilitator on Sonoran Desert conservation planning.
The Coalition’s strength lies in its ability to leverage meaningful and long-lasting change through close partnerships with its member groups and local jurisdictions. We continually try to connect the best available science with grassroots organizing and this has led to truly ground-breaking conservation successes in the Sonoran Desert and the Sky Island region.
The Coalition brings together and earns the trust of a wide variety of stakeholders and divergent interests and uses sound science and grassroots organizing to conserve the Sonoran Desert through effective land-use planning. I am proud that the Coalition has created a legacy in Pima County that includes ongoing implementation of the nationally-recognized Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan; preservation of hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and open space in Pima County; protection of critical wildlife linkages that connect the Sky Islands and desert seas; and, perhaps most importantly, a regional conservation ethic born from true collaboration and coalition-building.
I began my career after graduating from Arizona State University in 1982 with a B.S. in Political Science. I worked as a Congressional Aide to Representative Morris K. Udall in his Phoenix office from 1984-1990. I was the founder and State Chair of the Arizona Green Party from 1990-1998, and from 1994-1997 I worked as Chief Council Aide for Tucson City Councilmember Molly McKasson. In 1992, I was an Arizona Legislative Candidate.
Over the years, I have served on many local committees, including:
- Vice-Chair, Pima County Bond Advisory Committee
- Chair, SR 77 Wildlife Crossings Technical Advisory Committee
- Member, Regional Transportation Authority’s Wildlife Linkage Working Group
- Past Member of citizen stakeholder committees for Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, City of Tucson’s Resource Planning Advisory Committee, Pima Association of Governments’ Regional Task Force for Long Range Transportation, Regional Transportation Authority’s Citizen Advisory Committee, and the Town of Marana’s Habitat Conservation Plan
- Founding Advisory Committee Member, Living Streets Alliance
- Past Board Member: Arizona League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, Buffers, KXCI Community Advisory Board, Center for Voting and Democracy, Tucson Community Land Trust, Tucson Small Schools Project (now City High School)
I am honored to have received the following awards:
- Tucson Audubon Society, David Yetman Award for Promoting Conservation in Southern Arizona, 2013
- Sky Island Alliance, Mike Seidman Memorial Award, 2011
- The Nature Conservancy, Outstanding Conservation Achievement Award, 2009
- Tucson Mountains Association, Conservationist of the Year, 2009
- YWCA, Woman on the Move, 2008
- UofA Women’s Plaza of Honor, 2006
- Sonoran Institute, Collaborative Conservation, 2006
- Tucson Weekly, Local Hero, 2003
- Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, Conservation Champion, 2003
- Sonoran Institute, Local Hero, 2001
- Tucson Citizen, “Who Runs Tucson,” 2001
- The Nature Conservancy, Joseph Crutch Award, 2000
Kathleen Kennedy, Associate Director
Pronouns: she, her, hers
I cannot think of a better way to spend my time than working to protect the wildlife and wild places of the Sonoran Desert. I joined the Coalition in 2007 after receiving my B.S. in Geology from Northern Arizona University in 2000 and my M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana in 2005. After growing up in the forests of upstate New York, the Sonoran Desert was both foreign and enthralling when my husband and I moved to Tucson in 2005. Weekends spent hiking, climbing, and camping throughout southern Arizona quickly led me to fall in love with this beautiful landscape.
I provide program support for all of the Coalition’s projects, including researching, drafting, and editing all of the Coalition’s comment letters, donor communications, website content, and outreach materials. I also develop and manage the Coalition’s fundraising and communications plans and oversee the Coalition’s long-term goals, internal policies, and finances. I am continually inspired by the Coalition’s inclusive spirit and ability to make real change in the community. The Coalition’s member groups, volunteers, and supporters are top-notch and the foundation of our work.
Before joining the Coalition, I worked for the Town of Marana as an Environmental Projects Coordinator where I was in charge of the Town’s Habitat Conservation Plan efforts. I also worked as a Hydrologic Technician for the USDA-ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center.
I am the proud mother of three sons – Liam, Isaac, and Ryan – and I love exploring wild places with my family. I am an avid knitter and bookworm. Raspberries are my favorite fruit.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
I was raised by the desert. I don’t know exactly when this led to my decision to be a biologist, but maybe it was that moment, shin-dagger thorns in my jeans, when I saw the sunset light up the Atascosa mountains after my first volunteer trip setting wildlife cameras. Or maybe it was leaving my bed at night with a flashlight to find the spadefoots calling after a flash flood. But the desert led me right here.
After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Wildlife Management in 2007, I coordinated mountain lion and bobcat studies in the Tucson Mountains for the UA Wild Cat Research and Conservation Center. For the next seven years I work with Sky Island Alliance, leading the Wildlife Linkages Program, studying jaguars and ocelots in the borderlands, and protecting Wilderness through outreach, research, policy, and planning. I have served on the Arizona Wildlife Linkages Working Group, the Pima and Cochise County Wildlife Linkages Assessment Working Groups, and the RTA Wildlife Linkages Committee.
With the Coalition I have found a community that brings my experience and passion full circle to protect the desert that I call home. CSDP’s superhero team of staff, partners, and volunteers is a joy to work with. I focus on our community science wildlife monitoring projects, from volunteer data collection to analysis, and applying what we know to build safe passages for wildlife.
I also serve on the Executive Board of the Arizona Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and in my spare time explore website design, writing, and photography. I have two children, Sofia and Mateo, and love outdoor cooking, wading barefoot in creeks, and the scent of wild open spaces.
Pronouns: they, their, them
With the belief that a small group of dedicated individuals can effectively change our world and make a difference, I joined the Coalition to put that sentiment into practice. A transplant to Tucson, I was originally drawn to the world of environmental conservation by a historic grist mill residing alongside the Monocacy Creek in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was through my work with the Illick’s Mill Project that I developed the skills and experience needed to take a thought and put it into action. That result was the full restoration of the mill and the creation of a home for the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center combined with a drive to continue to make things happen.
Although I never meant to end up in Arizona, I have now lived within the Sonoran Desert boundary for a decade and never plan to leave. Why would I when there are Ocotillos for days? Firmly believing in the adage that it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re a local, I plan to keep it local here in Tucson and do all I can to help protect the subtle beauty of the Sonoran Desert so that all who inhabit it can flourish in the years to come.
Josh Skattum, Desert Wildlife Intern
Pronouns: he, him, his
I first started to expand on my passion and interest surrounding wildlife conservation during my undergrad studies at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point where I studied Wildlife Research and Management, Biology, and Captive Wildlife Management. This academic setting led me into discovering the empowering experience of being involved in volunteer fueled non-profits that engage their local communities in land stewardship, environmental education, and community science.
This passion continued on as I relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 2018 as I pursued my wildlife career as a zookeeper while also jumping into the Community Science Desert Wildlife Program for the Coalition as a Pima County Master Naturalist (PCMN). One of my service projects as a Master Naturalist is contributing towards the Coalition’s research on how wildlife linkages between our sky islands are impacted by roads and infrastructure. This project started with volunteering alongside PCMN Sam W, maintaining wildlife cameras at three sites: the Oro Valley wildlife overpass location, along I-10 (outside of Cienega Creek and Davidson Canyon), and now currently outside of the Tucson Mountains. When I’m not checking wildlife cameras, I also serve on the PCMN Board as the Communications Committee Chair. Within this role I help create an inclusive environment while sharing the Cultural and Natural history of Arizona as well as our Pima County Master Naturalist’s experiences and volunteer work. Arizona is such an incredibly diverse landscape filled with so many incredible people! I’m excited to see how this desert internship interfaces with both wildlife science and science communication!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Christina McVie, DesertWatch and Tucson Audubon Society
Russ McSpadden, Center for Biological Diversity
Trevor Hare, Tucson Herpetological Society
Rob Peters, Defenders of Wildlife
David Robinson, Tucson Audubon Society
WHY DO PRONOUNS MATTER TO CSDP?
The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection respects gender identity. We understand that we cannot assume to know each others’ pronouns by our names or appearance. For some of us, it is a privilege not to have to worry about which pronoun will be used based on how our gender is perceived. If we fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful but also oppressive.
The Coalition normalizes the practice of sharing our pronouns to challenge the belief that all pronouns can be assumed and to create a supportive community for all people.
(Note: This statement was adapted from our partners at Training Resources for the Environmental Community, an incredible organization that has helped the Coalition in innumerable ways over the years. Thank you, TREC.)