Friends of the Inyo Staff

Laura Beardsley, Executive Director

Laura took over as executive director in October, 2012. Mountain living has long been a love of hers, as she was born and raised in a rural part of New Hampshire, attended high school in western Massachusetts, and spent many weekends exploring the nearby White Mountains. She has a degree in Communications Studies from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She worked at Outward Bound in Philadelphia before moving to Yosemite for a job as Membership Coordinator for the Yosemite Conservancy. She learned about Friends of the Inyo while volunteering at Lake George during the Summer of Stewardship in 2011. After six and a half years in Yosemite, she found she was spending more and more time on the Eastside and decided to make the move over. She is passionate about cooking, skiing and community.

Paul McFarland, Special Projects Manager

Paul McFarlandThe prickly pear hills surviving on the outskirts of Southern California suburbia can be blamed Paul McFarland's lasting addiction to wandering open spaces. After working across California to enhance public stewardship of public lands, Paul now lives in Lee Vining with his wife, Yvette, and two sons, Henry and Solomon and daughter Lydia. He currently works seasonally for Friends of the Inyo's field programs fostering preservation, exploration and stewardship of the lands from Mt. Whiteny to Death Valley to Potato Peak.  Paul has been lucky enough to work with Friends of the Inyo since the waning days of the Clinton Administration. 

Jora Fogg, Preservation Manager

Jora Fogg

Forever altered by the mountains, Jora Fogg joined Friends of the Inyo as the Preservation Coordinator in April 2014.  Jora guides Friends of the Inyo through the Inyo’s forest planning revision process, commenting on public lands projects and leading exploration outings to special places in the Eastern Sierra. Jora grew up and went to college in Washington State, moving to California in 2004. Previously she spent 4 years in Colorado with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory as a biologist managing state and park service bird monitoring programs. She lives in June Lake with her husband and daughter.  Jora enjoys time “naturalizing” (especially birding), skiing, hiking, and cycling.

Casey Penn - Membership, Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator

Ben Wickham - Eastern Sierra Watersheds Coordinator (AmeriCorps)

Ben grew up in Idaho, where he received a history degree from the University of Idaho.  Knowing nothing about the Sierra, he randomly took a job at Merced Lake high Sierra camp in Yosemite right out of college because it sounded fun enough to him.  Ben has been winding up in the Sierra Nevada ever since.  After two summers at Merced Lake, Ben bounced around between Idaho and Montana – washing windows, tuning skis, delivering pizzas, dropping out of law school – before returning to the Sierra to work at Rock Creek Lodge.  He spent six summers and three winters working, hiking, and skiing in the high country before going back to Idaho where he received a masters in natural resources with an environmental education emphasis while teaching at an outdoor school.  Upon graduation, Ben immediately came back to the Sierra to be a ski guide in Yosemite during a winter with no snow.  However, he’s excited to be back on the eastside now where the high country terrain is more accessible.  Ben is also very excited to be working with so many great people and helping out with all of the projects and events Friends of the Inyo has going on this summer.