MEIC Board of Directors
The Board of Directors has complete legal control of MEIC and overall responsibility for its well-being and success.
Current MEIC Board of Directors
- Roger Sullivan, President (Kalispell)
- Zack Winestine, Vice President (New York)
- Gary Aitken, Secretary (Ovando)
- Bob Gentry, Treasurer (Missoula)
- Joe Biby (Kalispell)
- Paul Edwards (Helena)
- Mark Gerlach (Missoula)
- Tom Graff (Missoula)
- Stephanie Kowals (Seattle)
- Steve Scarff (Bozeman)
- Kirwin Werner (Ronan)
Roger is an attorney whose law practice has for a number of years included environmental, land use, and public policy issues. He has regularly advocated on behalf of such issues in the courtroom and occasionally at the legislature.
Roger has been an MEIC member for many years, appreciating its efforts to protect Montana’s environmental quality and occasionally assisting in those efforts. Perhaps stimulated by the birth of his first grandchild, he finds himself even more drawn to protecting the environment for this and future generations.
Zack’s family extends back four generations in Helena, MT, and the extraordinary uniqueness of Montana’s wild places were made vivid to him as a child. Zack and his wife have a cabin north of Helena and spend as much time in Montana’s backcountry as they can.
Zack has been active in community organizing around land-use, zoning, and development issues since 1993, serving as President of West Villagers for Responsible Development from 1994-2000, and Co-Chair of the Greenwich Village Community Task Force from 1994 to the present.
Over the past eight years Zack has also been active in the anti-corporate globalization movement, which has provided him with extensive experience in consensus decision making and working with diverse groups of people to find agreement on tactics and goals. He recently completed a feature-length documentary film about a bicycle caravan traveling across Europe to join protests against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Prague.
Gary grew up in the soggy Pacific Northwest, falling into rivers and tumbling down snowfields. He spent twenty years in Colorado raising sheep and writing computer software. A Montana resident since 1992, he began telecommuting from a trashed out mobile home with the phone outside under an antifreeze can nailed to a tree stump. Along the way he has spent a lot of time exploring crazy places by various non-motorized means.
Somewhat of a minimalist, he gets pretty pissed off at corporate and personal greed, and would love nothing more than to overturn the 1886 non-ruling by the Supreme Court which effectively granted “personhood” to corporations.
Gary has always felt that we have an obligation to leave this place in better shape than when we arrived, and is disgusted with our record in that regard. In the last forty years we have missed huge opportunities and squandered much of our natural wealth, things which have cost us dearly in the long run.
Gary would like to help MEIC and Montana citizens forcefully and without compromise reassert their right to a clean and healthy environment, one they can pass down to future generations with pride.
Shortly after accepting employment with the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program in 1996, Bob became acquainted with MEIC’s work. He quickly discovered that if there was a Montana watershed or a mountain that touched his heart, or some aspect of our natural environment essential to healthy biodiversity, MEIC had a hand in advocating for them, for him, and for all of us.
Since 1993, Bob has practiced law, focusing on environmental protection, preservation, restoration, and enforcement. In 2009 he opened his private environmental, social justice, and civil rights practice.
Bob looks forward to the opportunity of providing his assistance to MEIC’s outstanding board and staff. He says, “Together we can continue to assist our elected representatives to look before they leap, to think before they act, and thereby continue to make real and meaningful our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.”
Conservation activism and the preservation of biological diversity are Joe’s strongest motivations. He has been fortunate to live in the Flathead Valley where he is surrounded by amazing landscapes and abundant clean water.
His previous experiences with citizen groups includes board involvement with Citizens for a Better Flathead and the Flathead Lakers organizations. He is currently involved on a steering committee that plays an advisory role for American Rivers, Clark Fork Coalition, Pacific Rivers Council, and American Whitewater.
Joe is a dedicated proponent of wild places, wild rivers, and connections between people and these landscapes. His seasonal work guiding multi-day river journeys from the Yukon to southern Idaho has cemented a passion in him for the preservation of these places and an appreciation for those who have achieved so much to that end.
Paul Edwards is a lifelong opponent of exploitative, predatory Corporate Capitalism that has raped and robbed the West from the first white influx to today, and criminally created the current wholesale meltdown of the American economy.
He is, for the same reasons, a radical environmentalist who knows legislated wilderness is the only way to check that rapacity and to preserve the most valuable assets Montanans still possess: the last of its wild land, relatively pure air, and what is left of its clean water.
Mark has had an association with MEIC since 1975. He lived in the Blackfoot River Valley for 35 years; the first 20 years in the Lincoln Valley at the headwaters, and then 15 years in the Greenough Valley in the middle reaches of the Blackfoot. Twenty-five of the years were spent as a ranch hand and ranch manager, while the other 10 years included working for the U.S. Forest Service; as a logger and horse logger; and as a sawmill owner and operator. He has often called upon MEIC’s resources and expertise to help in current and historic mining issues, in water quality issues, and in the arenas of State and federal politics.
Having chosen to to live in rural Montana, Mark believes that Quality of Life is the first paycheck, and in his experience, MEIC is at the pinnacle of all environmental and conservation organizations in helping to recover and maintain the criteria of his definition of Quality of Life.
Tom is a life-long Montanan, married, and the father of two sons. After teaching for 30 years at Hellgate High School in Missoula, he is now happily retired.
For decades he has remembered Dr. Robert Coles’ research into the extraordinary resilience shown by children living in harsh circumstances. In one such study, Coles asked children of different circumstances to draw self-portraits. Many middle-class children drew head-and-shoulder figures to represent themselves. Indigenous children of the American Southwest, however, essentially drew landscapes, i.e., bushes, rocks, ridges, and perhaps their dwellings. Many drawings didn’t even have a representation of a human figure.
Tom feels like his grandchildren, as well as all our children and grandchildren, deserve to have the grand landscapes for adventure and for solace that we’ve all enjoyed.
Tom says, “I serve on the MEIC Board of Directors to support MEIC’s inspiring and exemplary tradition of protecting our waters and our landscapes.”
In the summer of 1975 Stephanie came to Montana for the first time. She had never been somewhere where she felt as comfortable as in the Blackfoot Valley. After returning to Seattle and graduating from college, she related the story of her summer in Montana to her grandfather. Much to her surprise, his response was “I’m from there.” Stephanie learned that her family had homesteaded, mostly in the Ovando area, from about 1870 to 1930. Eventually the thousands of acres of ranchland were sold off, leaving just one lot in the town of Ovando.
Today Stephanie still lives in Seattle, but her forebears rest in the Ovando cemetery; the connection to the place is reinforced every visit. She feels strongly that protecting, preserving, and restoring the Blackfoot Valley and Montana is not something that can wait. It has not been an easy fight and promises to get only more difficult as corporate pressure for resource extraction escalates in the guise of economic promise. For Stephanie, that’s equivalent to trading our offspring’s legacy for a few shortsighted dollars.
Steve got his B.S. in general science and psychology from the University of Iowa. He served as Iowa coordinator for Friends of the Earth, and has long been a fan of David Brower and Amory Lovins. He worked with Citizens United for Responsible Energy (CURE) and Free Environment to help prevent construction of a nuclear power plant near Des Moines.
Steve and his wife moved to the Yellowstone region in 1979. In 1990 they settled in Bozeman, where they raised two children. The whole family has a great appreciation for Montana’s clean air, clean water, and natural beauty. Steve studied computer science at Montana State University, and has worked there as programmer since 2000. Once an avid caver, Steve now enjoys camping, hiking, and foraging for wild mushrooms. He also plays a fair game of chess.
Steve joined the board in 2008. His primary motivator has been global warming. He believes rapid climate change is destroying Earth’s biological diversity and poses a huge threat to the future of human civilization. Steve believes that along with protecting Montana’s clean air and water and our right to a healthy environment, MEIC should continue to lead in the fight against global warming.