FOI 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, Director of Programs

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 boys, Henry and Solomon. He currently manages 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. 

Autumn Bahlman, Director of Operations

 Autumn BahlmanAutumn grew up in North Lake Tahoe, where she spent most of her time playing in the woods, catching lizards, and climbing around on granite boulders. Her love for the outdoors eventually led her to the Eastern Sierra, where she traded a giant blue lake for vast wilderness and rocky peaks. Her pastime of catching lizards, and playing in the woods eventually led to a Master's degree in biology at the University of Nevada, Reno. After spending the last several years working a variety of jobs from counting toads in the backcountry to managing a solar installation business, she is happy to have found a great fit with FOI, a place where she can combine her biology background and her peculiar enjoyment of working with numbers and paperwork. She currently lives in Mammoth Lakes with her two inseparable boys Sam and Owen, Cookie a large-poodle (don't laugh, she's a mountain poodle), and Percy, a cat who thinks she's a dog and loves to go hiking.

Todd Vogel, Outings Manager

Todd Vogel Todd has been a resident of the Owens Valley since the late 1980s and is part owner of a mountain guide service, Sierra Mountain Center, and an outdoor education company, Outdoor Link, llc. Much of his work as a guide involves outdoor education with groups from all walks of life, involving activities such as rock climbing and natural history.
Prior to his stint at FOI as the Wilderness Stewardship Coordinator, Todd was a FOI board member. He has been a director of a number of other nonprofits, including the American Mountain Guides Association, the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, and, most recently, he is a founding director of the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. His interests include never-ending home remodels, his wife and family of dogs, birding and photography. 

Drew Foster, Preservation Coordinator

Drew FosterDrew currently resides in the Mono Basin, a diverse hub of culture, activity, and ecological wonderment. He has been dedicated to sustainability, conservation, and connecting people with the land for several years, and grows more passionate about this work on a daily basis. An avid floral enthusiast, Drew looks forward each year to getting out and discovering what’s blooming, from the overwhelming biodiversity of the Mojave Desert to the awe-inspiring high alpine ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada. Of course, in addition to conservation issues, Drew has many other passions, including: hot air ballooning, brussel sprouts, clouds, long-winded discussions, the color red, classical music, and horseshoes; just to name a few. His advice to anyone in particular: go outside, get involved, and be a good person.

Andrew Schurr, Stewardship Coordinator

Andrew SchurrAndrew is an experienced outdoor leader who organized FOI’s first ever wilderness campsite site inventory in 2009, in addition to leading and assisting numerous wilderness and front country stewardship projects, and managing the Fish Slough Volunteer Patrol. Andrew was an AmeriCorps member with Friends of the Inyo for two years before hiring on as Stewardship Coordinator in 2011.