Conservation Montgomery is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organzation. We are a coalition of civic and environmental organizations as well as individual residents who address a broad spectrum of environmental and quality of life challenges facing Montgomery County over the next decade as the county approaches a population of one million. The first of its kind in the county, Conservation Montgomery serves as a forum for county residents who want:
- Effective watershed protection and stormwater management
- Tree-lined streets — and a tree and forest canopy that will provide environmental, economic and aesthetic benefits
- Workable solutions dealing with the impacts of climate change
- Energy-efficient homes, offices and businesses
- Sustainable transportation
- Pedestrian and bike-friendly neighborhoods
- Green public space and lush parks
- Responsive governance with land use decisions based on input all community stakeholders
Too often, we fail to see the connections between livable communities and environmental stewardship until it’s too late. Conservation Montgomery seeks to bridge the gaps between environmental issues currently addressed by a multitude of community groups and the civic community. By joining forces The coalition helps county residents understand their role in enviromental stewardship and serves as a resource for informed decision-making among elected officials. The organization works with individual residents, civic groups, businesses and other nonprofits and associations to reach out to our communities. Conservation Montgomery was established by a founding board, over half of whom were among those honored by the County Council as “40 Environmentalists Who Made a Difference in 40 Years” to mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in the United States. They are joined on the Board of Directors by leaders from county civic associations and others with expertise and leadership experience in science-based community policy. Conservation Montgomery offers a public forum for addressing a comprehensive set of county issues. Conservation Montgomery is funded by membership dues, donations and grants.
Members of our Board at the 2012 Annual Meeting, above from left to right standing: Founding Board Member Mark Buscaino, and Board Members Alan Bowser, Ginny Barnes, Arlene Bruhn, Caren Madsen, Barbara Hoover, and Evan Glass. Seated from left to right: Diane Cameron and Jennifer Chambers. Not pictured: Mike Rubin from Boyds, MD
To sustain Montgomery County’s quality of life and natural resources for current and future generations though community awareness and sound decision-making.
A connection between the health of our natural landscape and our collective quality of life. Conservation Montgomery envisions an environmentally literate citizenry and elected officials who act to protect natural resources in our communities.
Board of Directors
Please note: We have a dedicated but unpaid volunteer board. Thanks for your patience if you contact us.
Ginny Barnes is the Vice Chair of Conservation Montgomery. She is an environmental and civic activist who has led grassroots water quality, stormwater management and forest conservation efforts for more than 20 years. She served on both the County Water Quality Advisory Group and the Maryland Water Quality Monitoring Council. Under a grant from the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and in collaboration with the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS), she created a widely distributed video called Living Waters and helped the Audubon Naturalist Society start their citizen water quality monitoring program. For 10 years, she was on the Sierra Club Group Executive Committee and also served as Vice-Chair. She has been on the Legacy Open Space Advisory Group since the program began and currently serves as Co-Chair. She was part of the C&O Canal Stewardship Task Force set up by Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the Forest Conservation Task Force under M-NCPPC, and is currently a member of the County Forest Conservation Advisory Committee. Known for spearheading efforts to bring about strong environmental policies Countywide, she is President of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association and was named one of the “40 Environmentalists who made a difference in 40 Years” by the Montgomery County Council in 2010. Ginny is an exhibiting artist and the curator of an alternative art gallery space in Georgetown. She was part of the State Arts Council “Arts in Education" program, teaching textile arts residencies to students in schools throughout Maryland. Ginny is known for being passionate, eloquent, knowledgeable and an effective leader when it comes to giving a voice to environmental protection. Along with Caren Madsen from Conservation Montgomery, Ginny recently was honored for her public service with the Star Cup Award for 2011 from the Montgomery County Civic Federation.
Rockville resident Pablo Blank has more than 20 years of successful management career of nonprofits, for-profits and public agencies. Working for the Marketing Department of a Coca Bottler in Argentina, he joined the quality management team which achieved the ISO9000 (process quality) and ISO14000 (environmental protection) certifications.
In 2009 Pablo joined Granito de Arena (aka LEAD Environment) as a volunteer. The organization promotes environmental practices among the Maryland Latino population, focused on small daily activities each person can do in their houses, work environment and neighborhood in order to protect and take care of the environment. In 2011 Pablo was appointed as Granito de Arena’s pro-bono Executive Director.
In the U.S., he has worked for the Embassy of Argentina’s Cultural office, being also involved on environmental and international cooperation issues. He also worked for Identity, Inc. a Montgomery County nonprofit focused on helping Latino youth and their families to improve their quality of life and take advantage of future opportunities. Working for Identity, he managed the After-School Program, opened a new Youth Opportunity Center to serve youth transitioning out of gangs and became the Director of Programs, supervising five managers and thirty five staff members. He currently works for CASA de Maryland serving as the Immigrant Integration Programs Manager.
Pablo has a BA in Business Administration and a MA in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. He also holds certificates in nonprofit management, project management, civic society organizations development and courses on Social Psychology and Social Determinants of Mental Health.
Pablo loves spending time with his daughter Luz and wife Marcela as well as meeting with friends, playing and watching soccer, and reading about management, history, politics and social and environmental problems and solutions.
Board Secretary Alan Bowser, a graduate of Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and the Georgetown University Law Center, has extensive professional experience as an attorney, economist, and senior executive in the public and private sectors. A former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary for Basic Industries in the Department of Commerce, serving under Secretaries William M. Daley and Norman Mineta, he also was a senior staff member of the World Bank Group, and a Director of the Petroleum Finance Company, Ltd. He specializes in transportation, manufacturing, energy and environmental issues. He served as Chief of Staff/Confidential Aide to Montgomery County Councilmember-at-Large Duchy Trachtenberg. Currently, an attorney in private practice, he is President of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., and a member of the Board of Safe Silver Spring, Inc., the Sligo Creek Golf Association, Inc., Building Bridges America, Inc., and the Park Hills Civic
Arlene Bruhn is one of the founding board members of the organization. She has advocated for legislation to conserve street trees in Montgomery County and has called attention to the interface between tree health and stormwater runoff. A Bethesda resident and retired marketing professional, Arlene was named as one of the “40 Environmentalists Who Made a Difference in 40 Years” by the Montgomery County Council in 2010. Arlene championed revisions to the State's Roadside Tree Law, which was modified in 2009 and gave counties the opportunity to enact stringent street tree protections. Arlene has been an active advocate for shaded walkable communities, the protection of open space, and the preservation of natural areas such as trails and parkland. For many years Arlene has been involved in her neighborhood community as an advocate for tree care and shade tree planting. She continues to work toward protection of street trees by working with the county Department of Permitting Services and Council legal staff on guidelines and legislation intended to protect trees in the rights-of-way from unintended construction damage and damage by residents. In recent years, Arlene has been heavily engaged in the ongoing community dialogue regarding overly aggressive tree-trimming practices of Pepco and the impact that Pepco pruning has had on the local environment. She often conducts site visits and meets with residents who are concerned about tree canopy issues in their neighborhood. Arlene has trained as a "Citizen Forester" with the D.C.-based nonprofit Casey Trees in order to serve as a technical adviser for community tree planting.
Diane Cameron is the Conservation Program Director for Audubon Naturalist Society. She specializes in urban watershed protection and restoration by using green infrastructure techniques. With degrees in geology and environmental engineering, Diane served as a Senior Scientist on the Water Program staff of the Natural Resources Defense Council from 1989 to 1998. She is now a consultant to NRDC and other clients on stormwater issues. Diane coordinates the Stormwater Partners Network, comprised of 23 organizations (including Conservation Montgomery) supporting clean water in Montgomery County. Since their beginning in late 2005, the Stormwater Partners have worked with the County Council, the county Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Permitting Services, and the State Department of Natural Resources. They have garnered $1.25 million annually in local funds for green infrastructure projects, and worked with engineers, designers, and planners to craft a “Green Streets” amendment to the County’s road code. Diane currently works on implementing the County stormwater permit, one of the most progressive such permits in the country, and training citizens to restore the Anacostia River to vibrant health. She has also recently advised the McKenney Hills Forest Preservation Group on green space protection around the future site of the McKenney Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring. On behalf of the Audubon Naturalist Society, Diane is the liaison to Montgomery County Public Schools staff in working with them to incorporate environmental site design into the stormwater management plans for the school. Her ideal way of celebrating her birthday last year was to celebrate nature, friendship and family all at once. On her birthday, she led a hike through Little Bennett Park, her favorite Montgomery County park.
Beth worked as an advertising and communications professional for over two decades-- most recently directing Telemundo’s advertising and outreach efforts to garner advocacy and candidate dollars onto Spanish-language stations across the country.
Beth and her husband raised their two sons in Dickerson, Maryland—in the heart of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve—where she dedicates her time and energy to preserving its rural legacy in the face of development pressures. As a board member of the Montgomery Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board and Sugarloaf Citizens Association, Beth represents the interests of the Upcounty citizens on transportation, environment, education, public safety and keeps abreast of legislation likely to affect that area. An avid horseback rider and hiker, Beth enjoys her free time out on Montgomery County's regional park trail network.
As an At-Large candidate for the Montgomery County Council in 2014, Beth advocated for thoughtful, responsible growth and was endorsed by civic, labor, and environmental organizations -- including the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and Green Democrats.
Evan Glass is a local activist in Silver Spring and a strategic communications professional. He is also serving as the interim Executive Director of Gandhi Brigade, a nonprofit that teaches youth to use video and other digital media as tools to advance social and political justice.
Evan is a former news producer with CNN, where he spent 12 years covering Capitol Hill and national politics, and served as an on-the-road producer for the 2008 presidential campaign. He also served as president of both the Indian Spring Citizens Association and South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association, as well as serving as chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.
Arriving in the Washington area in the 1990s to attend American University, Evan moved to Silver Spring shortly after graduation and quickly became immersed in the emerging revitalization of Silver Spring. In his free time he enjoys hiking on local trails, taking public transportation, playing with his dog (a rescued beagle named Percy) and spending time with his husband, Jason.
Evan's vision for Silver Spring, as published in the Silver Spring Voice...
'South Silver Spring will be even more of an awesome place to live in 2021. The diversity of the residents will continue to increase -- if that's even possible -- because of investments in affordable housing and education. More people will choose to live in our area because they recognize the importance of the Purple Line, the Metro and bus systems. Our block parties will continue bringing people out of their apartments and onto the streets, as will the numerous community gardens that will flourish. More farmers markets, more businesses, more diversity, more culture, more green space -- I see the unique tapestry in my mind and it is beautiful.'
Barbara Hoover has served on the Conservation Montgomery Board of Directors since 2010. She is also a Board Member of the West Montgomery County Civic Association and the Biking Chair of Washington Women Outdoors. She has been on the WWO BOD and trip leader and trainer for over 20 years. She has had a lifetime commitment to share her love of the outdoors and nature with others and train and teach outdoor skills, specifically hiking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, cross country skiing and biking. She has sailed the Chesapeake Bay since she was a child and has worked to promote awareness that what we do in our own back yards ends up in the Bay. In addition she is working with One Less Car and the Maryland State Highway Administration on a Bicycle Ambassador Program. She is a senior project manager with a multinational computer, technology and IT consulting corporation, and has a background in healthcare, financial, and technical industries. In 2009, she helped organize her neighborhood to stop MNCPP Rockwood Park from being leased out to a commercial interest. This experience whet her appetite for local environmental activism. She brings with her strong organizational skills and a desire to make a difference. In addition, she was one of many residents active in the successful effort to reject installation of a soccer field that would have displaced Nick's Organic Farm on Brickyard Road in Potomac.
Silver Spring resident Caren Madsen is an environmenalist and a realist. She is interested in strategies that will protect the environment, consider impacts to human health and help sustain the local economy. She is the volunteer chair of the Conservation Montgomery Board of Directors and since 2006 has served two terms on the Montgomery County Forest Conservation Advisory Committee as a founding committee member, and on the Forest Conservation Task Force convened by the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. A former journalist, she is an advocate of preserving trees in the County and developing solutions to preserving tree canopy and protecting local watersheds. Over the years, Caren has served on other boards and volunteer positions with Friends of Sligo Creek and the Montgomery County Civic Federation.
For seven years, she was a Girl Scout troop leader and organized multi-troop activities and recruitment of girls and troop leaders. In 2008, she was honored with an award for outstanding volunteer service from the Girl Scouts of the Nation's Capital service unit for the Silver Spring-Takoma Park area. She has almost 30 years of experience in communications management in private industry and in the federal sector. Caren has been honored with awards for news and feature writing as well as for awards for community environmental volunteer work and communications, including recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Georgia Press Association, the Georgia Healthcare Association, the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association and the National Association of Government Communicators. She has been recognized by the Montgomery County Council as one of Montgomery County, Maryland’s “40 Environmentalists Who Made a Difference.” Caren received the Montgomery County Civic Federation's Star Cup Award for public service in 2010 and was honored by Bank of America with a "Local Hero" award in 2011. She is a Senior Fellow of the National Partnership for Public Service Excellence in Government leadership program and a graduate of the Department of Commerce Executive Leadership Development Program.
Andrea “Andie” Murtha is an ISA (International Society of Arborists) certified arborist and environmental planner who helped develop the Conservation Montgomery “Home Tree Care 101” course. She is trained and experienced in environmental science and planning, developing natural resource inventories, wetland delineation, forest conservation planning, native plants, invasive species eradication, stream assessment and monitoring and stream restoration design.
Andie is a natural resource consultant with Wetlands Study and Solutions (WSSI) in Gainesville, VA. She has worked in the past with Soltesz (formerly Loiederman Soltesz Associates, Inc.) in Rockville, Bowman Consulting, Burgess & Niple and her own firm, the Kensington Design Group, LLC.
She graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor of fine arts in landscape architecture. She also holds a B.A. in art history from Southern Methodist University.
Mike Rubin orchestrated a joint land protection effort that included the State of Maryland, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery County, the Trust for Public Land and himself. At 800 acres, the resulting Hoyles Mill Conservation Park represents the largest single land preservation acquisition in the County. He has worked with public and private land/farm preservation programs and institutions to preserve over 4,000 acres of land in Montgomery County, Maryland. He also works with local historic preservation boards to repair and maintain historic structures on properties he controls both in Montgomery County and in Aiken, South Carolina. Mike won an award for one of his equestrian/preservation projects in Aiken. He is founding chairman of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, an organization focused on sound economic, land-use and transportation policies and programs that preserve the natural environment, open spaces, and rural lands in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Mike is also President of Equestrian Partners in Conservation (EPIC).
For his work in land preservation, Mike was named as one of the “40 Environmentalists Who Made a Difference in 40 Years” by the Montgomery County Council in 2010. Mike is also founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Capitol Investment Associates Corporation, a company with assets exceeding $500 million and a portfolio of properties across the United States and in France. For more than a decade preceding his establishment of Capitol Investment Associates, Mike engaged in numerous development and construction activities. He was a principal in the acquisition and redevelopment of many high profile Washington, D.C. area residential and commercial projects and directed the renovation and sale of more than 1,000 condominium and rental apartments. He served in the U.S. Army as a Special Forces Officer and is a disabled vet. He is fluent in Russian and German and holds a degree in Business Administration with concentrations in finance and economics from the University of Maryland.
Najlaa Soghier serves as Treasurer of Conservation Montgomery. Najlaa has over seven years of accounting, financial, sales, customer relations, process management, and lodging industry experience. As a member of the Global Finance organization within Marriott International Headquarters, Najlaa provides financial analysis and business support to Brand, Marketing, Sales, and Consumer Services areas and senior executives. She has a Masters degree in Business Management, with focus in Accounting, from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from the University of Maryland, University College. Najlaa is an active CPA in the state of Maryland and a member of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants. Najlaa has always had a deep appreciation for the nature and is highly interested in urban sustainability, parks and green space preservation, climate change impacts and mitigation, and energy conservation. She lives in Boyds, MD.
Mark Buscaino is the Executive Director for Casey Trees, a non-profit dedicated to restoring, enhancing and protecting the tree canopy of Washington, DC. Mark began his career in 1983 as a forestry volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa. Since then, he has held several positions including: Deputy Project Manager for the Urban Forest and Education Program in New York City; City Forester for Takoma Park, Maryland; Urban Forester for Fairfax County Virginia; and, Chief Forester for the District Department of Transportation/Urban Forestry Administration, Washington, DC. Prior to becoming Executive Director of Casey Trees in 2006, Mark served as the National Director for the USDA Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program in Washington, DC. He is currently a member of the Montgomery County Forest Conservation Advisory Committee.
Beverly Sobel serves as Treasurer of Conservation Montgomery and is currently a Board Member of Plyers Mill Crossing Home Owners Association and President of GreenSpaceOnGeorgia.Org. For nearly six years, as a community activist, she led a successful grassroots effort to save green space in Wheaton, MD as the new Carroll Knolls Local Park. In 2009, the Montgomery County Civic Federation recognized Beverly as a Montgomery County Community Hero for her public service and advocacy for need public parkland in her community. Currently, as a contractor, Beverly provides programmatic and financial management support to Federal Government advanced research and development programs. She has a Masters in Public Management with a concentration in Environmental Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and a Bachelors of Arts in English with a double minor in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Providence College. Beverly has always had a deep appreciation for the natural world and is highly interested in urban sustainability, land use, wetlands, and native ecology.
Conservation Montgomery Advisory Council member Helen Wood has had a distinguished career at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), culminating in her leadership role in the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (“GEOSS”) program. This effort involves more than 20 U.S. federal agencies and 80 governments around the world who cooperate in measuring and monitoring the Earth’s environment. The GEOSS program connects environmental data and decision-support tools with the end users of these products to bring the relevance of Earth observations to bear in global issues such as understanding climate change, energy and water resources management, and improved weather forecasting. You might say this Bethesda resident is transitioning from “global” to “local” with her new role in Conservation Montgomery. Helen is also a recognized leader in national and international efforts aimed at reducing disaster losses through the improved use of science and technology. During her career with NOAA, she chaired the President’s National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction from 2002 until September 2006, and served on the steering committee of the National Research Council Disasters Roundtable. In 2005, she served as deputy head of the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, convened by the United Nations General Assembly and held in Kobe, Japan in 2005. Helen was a member of the U.S. Senior Executive Service, recipient of two U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medals, the Department’s Silver and Bronze Medals, and the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award. She holds a degree in mathematics from the University of Maryland and in computer science from The American University. She is also a member and treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Maplewood Park Homeowners Association in Bethesda, MD.
Helen's lively spirit remind us of Henry David Thoreaus's words:
'In wildness is the preservation of the world....'
Enjoy the following selection of photos from Helen's world travels.
So many adventures...Antarctica, January 2011 (above)