Meet The Mountaineers Conservation & Advocacy Committee

The Mountaineers believes in the power of leveraging the strengths of our members and volunteers for the benefit of our community. One of the ways our conservation and advocacy program does this is by relying on the expertise of our Conservation & Advocacy Committee. Read on to learn more and meet our current committee members.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
July 05, 2022

At its heart, conservation is about people - people with strong outdoor connections that steward and protect our landscapes, and grow a community of advocates for our wild places. The people that power conservation at The Mountaineers aren’t just our staff, they’re members and volunteers driven to preserve the outdoor experience for future generations.

The Mountaineers Conservation & Advocacy Committee (C&A Committee) is a standing committee of the Board of Directors tasked with advising the staff on conservation policy issues of potential importance to our members and stakeholders. The committee provides expertise and guidance to advance the organization’s conservation and advocacy work. Working directly with the Conservation & Advocacy Director and the CEO, the committee also supports the organization’s efforts to influence public policy and land management to protect public lands and the life-changing outdoor experiences they provide.

The committee is made up of The Mountaineers Board and Advisory Council members, as well as other members and individuals from outside the organization with deep expertise in conservation policy, communications, advocacy, and law, as well as a passion for protecting the Northwest’s special landscapes and the outdoor experiences they provide.

The C&A Committee is supported by The Mountaineers Conservation & Advocacy Director Betsy Robblee, Advocacy and Engagement Manager Conor Marshall, and CEO Tom Vogl. Braided River’s Executive Director Helen Cherullo and Conservation Impact Manager Erika Lundahl also bring valuable perspectives from their work inspiring conservation action through compelling narratives and visuals.

Current Committee Members

Roger Mellem, Committee Chair (Board)

Conservation & Advocacy Committee Chair Roger Mellem is a longtime Mountaineer who was first appointed to the Board of Directors in 2018. He was subsequently elected by the membership and appointed Secretary. Roger is a former Outward Bound instructor and an avid wilderness conservationist, as well as past President and Board Member Emeritus of Washington Wild, a conservation organization with which The Mountaineers regularly partners to advocate for protection of our threatened public lands. He is also a member of the Leadership Council of the Yale School of the Environment.

Roger is an attorney with the Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland law firm where he practices securities and real estate litigation. He holds a Master of Studies in Law Degree from Yale Law School, a J.D. from the University of Oregon Law School. Roger’s combination of mountaineering, conservation, outdoor education, fundraising, legal, mediation, and board leadership experience is an asset to The Mountaineers.

Gabe Aeschliman (Board)

Gabe is currently serving as President of the Mountaineers Board of Directors. He is a Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation working on the Philanthropic Partnerships Team. Previously, he was a Philanthropy Officer with The Wilderness Society and the Senior Philanthropic Advisor with Seattle Foundation advising individuals, families, and groups on effective philanthropic strategies, and leading the environmental grantmaking work. Gabe received a B.A. in History from California State University, Sacramento. With strong ties to California, he often finds himself hiking and climbing at destinations along the West Coast.

Deloa Dalby

Deloa serves on the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust Board of Directors and on the leadership teams for Savor Snoqualmie Valley, Snoqualmie Valley Outdoor Recreation Team, and the Trailhead Ambassadors program. She has been working on conservation projects for over 30 years. Deloa leads the Conservation Committee for The Mountaineers Foothills Branch and organizes stewardship projects that support environmental goals within our region.

Deloa owns Dalby Property Solutions, a real estate project management firm that specializes in complex land use projects. She incorporates stewardship values into her work, effectuating sustainable and balanced results for all. Deloa accomplishes these goals in collaboration with the Greenway, Washington Trails Association, and other recreation and conservation partners. She has deep roots with tribal peoples, was mentored by Vi Hilbert (taqʷšəblu), and is an advocate for the native voice.

Brynne Koscianski (Board)

A second generation Mountaineer, she most recently enjoyed completing intermediate glacier travel and ski mountaineering courses. Brynne enjoys climbing, trail running, skiing, and hiking around the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband Ryan and son Finn. A graduate of Yale University, Brynne is a product development leader at Amazon where she leverages customer-centric design to develop and launch new products. Passionate about advocating for women and girls in the outdoors, Brynne has also served on an advisory council for Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident through running. She is proud to follow in the footsteps of these female adventurers, risk-takers, and leaders, and appreciates the power of the outdoors to generate meaningful connections across a diverse community.

Elizabeth Lunney (Advisory Council)

Currently a Senior Associate at Valtas Group, Elizabeth has spent 30 years building leadership and capacity for conservation and recreation organizations nationwide. She served as executive director for Washington Trails Association for more than a decade, and has since held interim executive roles for a number of local conservation organizations (including The Mountaineers!). In addition to executive transition, she works with nonprofits on strategic planning, operations forecasting, and program development. She identifies as a hiker and is happy to set up basecamp deep in the backcountry or among the creature comforts of her solar-topped travel trailer. She currently serves as a member of The Mountaineers Advisory Council.

Maya Magarati (Board)

Maya currently serves as an affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, a Research Scientist in the School of Social Work at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, as well as Seven Directions: A Center for Indigenous Public Health Institute in the School of Medicine. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the UW Nepal Studies Initiative. She believes that as an integral part of the local, regional, and global ecosystems, we have the responsibility and the agency to take care of the places where we live and recreate.

She currently serves on The Mountaineers Board of Directors and previously served on our Advisory Council. In addition to hiking and backpacking in state and national parks, forests, coasts, and islands, Maya enjoys helping her partner take care of the plants and vegetables that they grow organically right in their backyard, which provide food not only to them but also to the bees, butterflies, and birds.

Thomas O’Keefe (Advisory Council)

Since 2005, Tom O'Keefe has worked for American Whitewater, a river conservation organization representing the whitewater paddling community, and currently serves as their Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director. He has provided formal analysis and comment in agency planning efforts, drafted legislation and Supreme Court testimony, and testified before Congress and the state legislature. Tom has been a member of The Mountaineers since 2003 and works directly with our conservation team on public lands policy through Outdoor Alliance Washington and several other coalitions. He also currently serves on The Mountaineers Advisory Council.

Stephan Tan

Stephen is an environmental lawyer with Cascadia Law Group and a nonprofit consultant with the Valtas Group. He has served in leadership positions on boards of over a dozen local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations and writes and speaks often on issues of environmental and conservation policy.

Mark Walters (Advisory Council)

Mark Walters is an intellectual property and patent attorney with Frommer Larence & Haug LLP. He serves as lead trial and appellate counsel in intellectual property disputes of all kinds. He has experience handling patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret litigation and has tried cases and argued appeals at all levels of the federal court system, including federal district courts throughout the U.S., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is also a frequent speaker on intellectual property law and litigation practice. Mark is passionate about wilderness preservation and is a member of The Mountaineers Advisory Council.

Making New Initiatives a Reality

Recent Conservation & Advocacy Committee work has focused on supporting several of our new initiatives, including: climate strategy, The Mountaineers land acknowledgment statement, and new opportunities for member engagement. Committee members' perspectives have been invaluable during our ongoing process to create a formal land acknowledgment statement for the organization and build resources to educate Mountaineers about ways we can respect and acknowledge the places we recreate as native lands.

The Committee also helped make our recent Conservation & Advocacy Town Hall an overwhelming success. This first-ever event provided a great opportunity for our conservation-minded members to learn about and provide feedback on our conservation and advocacy mission, strategy, and work. Staff are already working to implement some of the feedback we received from the event.

With the climate crisis impacting our public lands and communities in so many ways, the committee strives to shape our climate strategy so that we may effectively address the climate crisis as an increasing priority in our advocacy and other initiatives.

Join our Conservation and Advocacy Efforts

Interested in learning more about the Conservation & Advocacy Committee’s work, or have a question about conservation at The Mountaineers? Contact our team at conservation@mountaineers.org.

The best way to stay abreast of the latest developments in conservation policy and public land management in our region is to subscribe to our monthly Conservation Currents newsletter. We routinely include blogs, action alerts, and land manager surveys - the tools you need to help conserve and advocate for the outdoor experience in Washington. We also encourage you to contact your Mountaineers branch leadership to see how other conservation-minded members are making a difference as stewards and advocates in your area.

Lead image of western terminus of the Pacific Northwest Trail at Cape Alava, Olympic National Park. Photo by U.S. Forest Service-Pacific Northwest Region.