Meet the Board

We have an active and engaged board of directors who represent a vast range of experience and interest. Our board members have one thing in common: a love of the outdoors and a desire for protecting the Inyo region, and helping others find ways to explore the area and to give back. In 2009, the FOI board contributed over 1600 volunteer hours!

James Wilson, President, Bishop

James WilsonJames has spent and forgotten more days working for the protection and preservation of the Eastern Sierra than most of us will ever know. He grew up in the Central Valley working in the agricultural industry – loading trucks, picking fruit and working in peach canneries. James and his wife Kay moved to Bishop, CA in 1977, and raised their daughter Rosanne here. They own Wilson’s Eastside Sports, an outdoor retailer in Bishop, which caters to hikers, climbers, backpackers, cross-country skiers and natural history enthusiasts. James, a founding member of Friends of the Inyo, is also an active member of many local conservation and civic organizations, including the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society and Bishop Rotary. He enjoys chasing birds and the peace of wild places in his spare time. 

Sydney Quinn, Vice President, Big Pine

Sydney QuinnSydney Quinn migrated from the desert of Phoenix, AZ to the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff at the age of 17. Fortune had it that she learned to ski in a physical education program at Northern Arizona Univ. in 1968, which began a passion for skiing. Moving to Mammoth in 1970 and an 18-year career of ski teaching began a lifestyle and reverence for the mountains through years of backcountry exploration in winter and summer. “Andrea Lawrence, one of my beloved mentors, was the impetus for my involvement in environmental activism beginning n the '70s. She appointed me to the Mono County Planning Commission in the 1980s. That experience was a valuable education in non-partisanship and commitment to community. [And] the benefits of living in the Sierra far outweighed any monetary gain or professional life--for a while anyway. A bit of panic set in at 40, and I decided to finish my masters in psychology and take a real job.” After 17 years at Mono County Mental Health as a psychotherapist, she retired and settled near Big Pine with her husband, Dennis, a magic dog, two crazy cats and a flock of chickens. With knees sacrificed to skiing and backpacking, she is settling more into a rural lifestyle with a garden of greens at the foot of the eastside of the Sierra Nevada. “Preserving our wondrous backcountry through the opportunities provided by Friends of the Inyo is an honor and commitment that I take seriously.”

Bill Mitchel, Treasurer, Bishop

Bill MitchellAfter working in Human Resources in California’s aerospace industry for years, Bill and his wife Vivian traded corporate life for retirement in Bishop. They really came out ahead on that deal. An avid backcountry hiker and birdwatcher among other interests, Bill is also treasurer of the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, a volunteer with the local Birds in the Classroom education program and former secretary of the Inyo County Treasury Oversight Committee. He is a not so recent addition to the board of Friends of the Inyo, having joined us in March 2007 and currently serves as treasurer of the organization.

Steve McLaughlin, Secretary, Big Pine

Steve McLaughlinSteve is a botanist and retired Professor of Arid Lands Studies from the University of Arizona. Steve's research and teaching focused on economic botany, plant taxonomy, ecology, and biogeography. He worked extensively on the plant life of southeastern Arizona, and also taught and did research in Argentina, Chile, and Honduras. Steve and his wife, Janice Bowers, also a botanist, moved to the Owens Valley from Tucson in early 2007. They have vacationed in the Eastern Sierra since the early 1980s, and now enjoy the great hiking, botanizing, birding and (occasionally) fishing that the area has to offer. Steve also served as the president of the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society from 2008 to 2010.

photo: Maggie Wolfe Riley

Jo Bacon, Mammoth Lakes

Jo Bacon has served on the Mammoth Lakes Town Council since 2008 and is a longtime advocate for stewardship of Eastern Sierra public lands. She has volunteered for the Inyo National Forest for over ten years, providing naturalist tours and helping visitors at information desks throughout the Mammoth Ranger District. She feels her background of over 25 years in local government provides a perspective on how those agencies work that will benefit FOI. She has been a generous member of Friends of the Inyo for a decade, and has volunteered at many Summer of Stewardship events in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. She also participated in the Volunteer Vacation at Thousand Island Lake in the summer of 2011, saying the "best thing about the experience was seeing cooperation, collaboration, and fellowship in action."

Tom Boo, Bishop

Tom Boo is a physician at Northern Inyo Hospital. He fell in love with the Eastern Sierra region in 1996 when he moved to Bishop from Ventura with his wife Heleen. Six years later, he took a hiatus to work in public health, mostly in South Sudan and Kenya, and returned to Bishop in 2009. He is a volunteer medical director and a board member of Hospice of the Owens Valley and recently joined the Starlite Community Service District. Dr. Boo believes that working with Friends of the Inyo will be a great opportunity to try to live by the maxim to "think globally, act locally." He has a passion for natural places and has been deeply concerned about global and local environmental issues since his days as an undergraduate biology major.

Mike Prather, Lone Pine

Mike PratherMike has lived in Inyo County since 1972, starting in Death Valley National Park (then Death Valley National Monument) in the 1970s, and later in Lone Pine in 1980. "My focus has been on the desert, as well as the Sierra, with particular interests in water and wildlife issues. For many years, I worked on passage of the California Desert Protection Act and the Inyo/Los Angeles Water Agreement with its Lower Owens River Project. Currently much of my energy is directed toward the massive wildlife return associated with the Los Angeles Owens Lake Dust Project, and also possible increased protection of the Alabama Hills through a Federal designation within the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System. My interests within Friends of the Inyo are seeking sustainability, increasing diversity and spreading FOI’s good works into the southern Owens Valley."

Dave Herbst, Bishop

Dave HerbstDave has lived and worked in the Eastern Sierra for 35 years and is a research scientist with the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (University of California), with a PhD in zoology and entomology. He does research on the ecology and physiology of invertebrates and algae from streams, lakes, and springs of the Sierra Nevada, Great Basin, and coastal central California. A guiding principle has been using results of scientific research to help in habitat conservation and management. Some examples: research on salt lakes in California (Mono, Owens), Oregon (Abert), and Nevada (Walker) to understand how they function and to promite their conservation and science-based management; studies of threats to streams and springs from erosion and sediments, mining pollution, non-native species, livestock grazing, and climate change; developing water quality standards for streams of the Sierra Nevada based on biological indicators (aquatic insects and other invertebrates); restoration ecology of streams and desert springs. Dave has also been involved in environmental education as author of a guide to monitoring stream health and as a past board member of the Yosemite Institute.

Chris Lizza, Lee Vining

Chris LizzaChris is a lifelong resident of the Eastern Sierra who relishes the untrampled public spaces as much as the small social circles locals enjoy. He graduated from Mammoth High School in 1979, where he was elected Student Body President, and went on to receive a BA in Political Science at the University of Vermont, a Master’s from the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona, and a JD from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Although he does not currently practice law, he remains an active member of the California Bar Association. Since 1999, he has been  owner and operator of the Mono Market, a community grocery store in Lee Vining, and works seasonally full time on the Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol. He is a graduate of the Sierra Leadership Institute of the Sierra Business Council and has chaired the Mono Basin Regional Planning Commission from 2003 until he was appointed to the Mono County Planning Commission in 2011. Chris was chosen to serve as Foreman of the Mono County Grand Jury from 2008-9, is Captain, Training Officer, and Senior EMT on the Lee Vining Volunteer Fire Department and Treasurer of the Mono Basin Historical Society. As a longtime contributor to numerous environmental groups, Chris was invited by the Wilderness Society to lobby representatives in Washington D.C. in support of the Wilderness Bill sponsored by Representative "Buck" McKeon and Senators Feinstein and Boxer in a successful 2008 bipartisan effort. Friends of the Inyo welcomed him as a board member in early 2011. “As a conservationist and a business person, I believe I can bring many diverse interests together to achieve sustainable and sensible solutions to land use issues.”