Coalition staff include our Director, Associate Director, and Program and Outreach Associate. 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 4-member Advisory Committee that provides input on fundraising, program areas, and issue positions.
Throughout the 20+ 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 18 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
I joined the Coalition in 2007 after graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2000 with a B.S. in Geology and from the University of Montana in 2005 with a M.S. in Environmental Studies. 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 cannot think of a better way to spend my time than working to protect the wildlife and wild places of the Sonoran Desert.
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, operations, 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 simply top-notch and are the foundation of all 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 have three young sons – Liam, Isaac, and Ryan – and I love exploring wild places with my family. I am an avid knitter and bookworm and raspberries are my favorite fruit.
With the belief that a small group of dedicated individuals can effectively change on 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.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Joy Herr Cardillo
Christina McVie, DesertWatch and Tucson Audubon Society
Randy Serraglio, Center for Biological Diversity
Trevor Hare, Tucson Herpetological Society
Rob Peters, Defenders of Wildlife