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:
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.
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 nonprofit, for-profit, and government agencies. Working for the Marketing department of a Coca Cola 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 as a volunteer. The organization promote environmental practices and awareness among Latinos in Maryland. In 2011 Pablo was appointed as pro-bono Executive Director of the organization. Pablo Blank currently serves as CASA’s Immigrant Integration Programs Sr. Manager, supervising the Citizenship, Financial Education, Tax Preparation, and MD driver’s license for undocumented immigrants’ programs. Prior to CASA, Pablo worked for Identity Inc., a Montgomery County based nonprofit organization serving at-risk Latino youth and their families through after-school, gang prevention, HIV prevention, and teen-pregnancy prevention programming. He also worked for the Embassy of Argentina in the US in Washington, DC, as Coordinator of their Cultural, Environmental and International Cooperation office.
Pablo is also interested in Diversity and Inclusion issues, as well as fighting against Hate/Bias/Violence. Thus, he was elected to serve the Chair of the Multicultural Engagement Committee with the PTA’s Montgomery County Commission (MCCPTA), and has been appointed by Montgomery County’s Executive and approved by the County Council to serve as a “voting member” on the Committee on Hate/Violence, where he Chairs the Community Education Committee.
In 2009 Pablo received the “Argentine Social Ambassador Award” by the Help Argentina Foundation for his work at the Argentine Center for Students and Alumni in the US, where he lead a team which fundraised and donated to Argentine nonprofit organizations over $50,000 in a two-year period.
Pablo holds a BA in Business Administration and an MA in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Pablo is married and has one child.
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
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.
Amanda is a native of Washington DC and has lived in Bethesda, Maryland since 2000. Her background is as a pediatric occupational therapist working in schools and early intervention throughout the DC area. She became an activist involved in urban tree canopy issues after watching and documenting the decline of tree canopy in her neighborhood and the down county area. She would like to acknowledge Casey Trees and the Montgomery County Weed Warrior Program for helping to build her awareness and advocacy skills. Over the past few years, she has organized several neighborhood tree planting projects resulting in the planting of several hundred trees and advocated to different County agencies on a number of tree canopy related-issues. She has been a strong advocate of including better tree canopy and green space requirements in the County planning process.
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.
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.
Conservation Montgomery Treasurer 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 100 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. During her career with NOAA, she chaired the President’s National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction and served on the steering committee of the National Research Council Disasters Roundtable. 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 president of the Board of Directors of the Maplewood Park Homeowners Association in Bethesda, MD. She is a pastel artist and active in several regional art associations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Diane Cameron served as Conservation Program Director for Audubon Naturalist Society from 2008 to 2016. She is a watershed protection advocate who led the 2013-2014 campaign to Save Ten Mile Creek. 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. Diane co-founded the Stormwater Partners Network in 2005, and chaired it from 2005 to 2016; it’s now led in 2018 by Caitlin Wall of Potomac Conservancy and Eliza Cava of Audubon Naturalist Society and is comprised of 36 organizations supporting clean water in Montgomery County. Diane serves on the Boards of Conservation Montgomery and Friends of Ten Mile Creek and Little Seneca Reservoir. Her hobbies are native tree propagation; hiking; singing; cooking; and quilting.
Zach Wiita has joined Conservation Montgomery as the Communications Director. He chairs the CM Communications Committee and has already enhanced the CM social media presence over the past few months. Zach has been active in a number of Montgomery County efforts in recent years, including volunteering with Our Revolution, Progressive Maryland, Democratic Socialists of America and the successful 2018 campaign for Marc Elrich as County Executive. He has worked on Capitol Hill in the offices of U.S. Representative Maurice D. Hinchey and U.S. Senator Joe Biden. Zach is a graduate of Kent State University.
Lauren Brown is a new member of the CM Advocacy Committee. She has lived in Montgomery County most of her life and is excited to do environmental work at the local level. She recently graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a degree in Environmental Politics and Policy and Psychology. She was very active in the leadership of environmental clubs at the college level; running successful campaigns for divestment and sustainable practices and policies. She has worked at Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Fountain Rock Nature Center, and most recently, the Audubon Naturalist Society. She has volunteered at various environmental organizations in Montgomery County, including 350MoCo, Sierra Club, and Sunrise Youth Movement. Some of Lauren’s hobbies include gardening, camping, and teaching yoga.
Helen Burns joins CM as a member of the Communications Committee. She’s known to many as the writer of the “MoCo Millennial” political blog. Helen is a graduate of Oberlin College (‘11) and Georgetown University (‘15) and now works as a cyber security analyst for a private contractor. She spent three years living in Eastern Europe teaching English while independently researching environmentally sustainable economic development. As a resident of Takoma Park, she enjoys long distance running and biking on the Sligo Creek trail. Helen is particularly interested in improving water quality locally as well as mitigating the water crises in other parts of the United States that result from climate change. Currently, she is working as a volunteer with youth advocacy groups to assist the County Executive in developing affordable housing strategies that minimize environmental impact and maintain green space. Helen is fluent in Spanish and Russian.