Originally from Tennessee, Debra attended school in Sacramento, then traveled extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest before finally settling on a small farm in Northern California with her husband Dave. Debra became an ardent volunteer in the 1970s and 80s and has over twenty-five years of experience in the non-profit industry. Honored in 2009 by the California Legislature and the Yolo County Women's History Committee as a "Woman Taking the Lead to Save the Planet," she has held senior positions with organizations that focus on building environmental literacy, conservation ethics, conserving wildlife habitat, land preservation as well as advocating for science, health and social justice. Her strengths lie in fostering change and meeting environmental, social and community needs through strategic planning, community education, fundraising and organizational development - assisting nonprofit organizations in realizing their full potential by connecting their vision to community impacts. She and her husband Dave consider their ongoing passion for environmental activism as part of their responsibility to make sure that future generations will enjoy the wildlife of today, especially the majesty of the mountain lion.
Debra was appointed to serve as CEO in November 2019.
Michelle Blake brings decades of effective advocacy, including working as a lead volunteer for the 1994 ballot initiative that limited cougar hounding in Oregon. From her base in Salem, OR, she advocates for lions in six western states. Michelle is a longtime journalist and freelance writer with a BA in Communications from California State University Chico and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Marylhurst University in Portland. Her background includes TV, radio, print, and digital media, which she uses to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our beautiful and shy native lions. She and her husband live with a happy gaggle of rescued animals.
As Western Region I Coordinator, she will oversee California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico.
Denise Peterson is our Western Region II Coordinator, Media Productions, and GIS Analyst. Denise has a strong background in wildlife science with a focus on mountain lions, is a talented photographer and videographer trained in the Adobe graphics suite, and is a certified GIS Analyst. She also has her Wildlife Chemical Immobilization certification and has worked in the Peruvian Amazon tracking radio-collared ocelots for a study in predator-prey interactions. As we met Denise, she was working to map mountain lion mortalities across South Dakota, and readying herself to testify before the Utah Wildlife Board, asking them to reduce their lion hunt. Located near Salt Lake City, Utah, Denise will represent us in the Rockies and Southwest. Denise has been employed with the Mountain Lion Foundation since 2017.
As Western Region II Coordinator, she will oversee Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Florida.
Diana returns to the Mountain Lion Foundation as our State Policy Associate. She received her B.Sc. in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology from the University of California, Davis and holds a Master's degree in Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution with an emphasis on nature conservation biology from the University of GÃ¶ttingen in Germany. Diana carried out her master's research in Tanzania, studying predator-prey interactions and grouping patterns in ungulates. She also spent time in South Africa working with cheetahs and in Cameroon studying the effects of different land use types on the biodiversity and distribution of wildlife. Diana is excited to return to the Mountain Lion Foundation to continue to advocate for America's Lion and believes that the key to successful conservation is through community outreach, education, and collaboration between all stakeholders. When sheâ€™s not working to save mountain lions, Diana enjoys spending time on her small family farm with her fiance, two beautiful children and three wonderful stepsons.
Administrative assistant Chelsea Robinson has studied music business and culinary arts before finally receiving her BS in business management in 2013. Since graduating, she has worked in administration with various nonprofits within the last 5 years.
When she is not performing clerical duties, she is singing karaoke all over Sacramento and spending time with her lab mix dog Jack.
Fred started his environmental career in the mid 80's with Californians Against Waste working on the Bottle Bill. After a few detours, which included writing software for Viacom/Paramount, a law practice and developing business processes and software for three startup companies that were all acquired by LexisNexis, Fred returned to environmental work with the Mountain Lion Foundation in 2004.
Lou Galgani joined the Mountain Lion Foundation team in the fall of 2015 and has returned after a brief hiatus. She has a background in animal care and a BA in Biology from California State University Sacramento. Her experience in office administration and organization skills are proving to be valuable assets to MLF. Lou runs the front desk and you'll likely hear her cheerful wit when you telephone our office.