Samantha Hammer has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Trinity University and a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from The University of Arizona. Her Master’s thesis explored how the vegetative, hydro-logical, and geomorphological characteristics of ephemeral and intermittent streams influence their use by wildlife species of concern. She has worked in Wyoming and Idaho as a wildlife technician surveying for species such as Wyoming pocket gophers and pygmy rabbits, as a range technician inventorying range improvements on BLM allotments, and even as a recreation/wildlife intern mapping two-track dirt roads.  Sami is currently the Conservation Coordinator with The Sky Island Alliance.  She has been working this spring in the Sutherland Valley with David and I to map fences and fence permeability for GL and the SIA.  She lives in Catalina with her dog Dina, is incredibly kind, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.

Peggy Bendel is a globally-recognized expert in travel and tourism marketing, branding, public relations, media coaching and crisis communications.  A member of the original marketing team for the seminal I Love New York campaign, which was launched at a time of financial and image crisis for New York State, Peggy has worked with more than 50 US and international destinations, from Australia to the U.S. Virgin Islands, South Africa to Sweden, and more than a dozen hospitality industry clients, including hotels and resorts, tour operators and associations.
She is a Board member of Ecology Project International and a former Board member of The International Ecotourism Society, and a long-time supporter of environmental and animal-related causes, including the Sky Island Alliance, the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Nature Conservancy, the Center for Biological Diversity, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and more.
Peggy received The Winthrop Grice Lifetime Achievement in Public Relations award from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), and her work has received many Gold, Silver and Bronze awards from HSMAI over the years. She is the author of “It’s a crisis! NOW what? The first step-by-step crisis communications handbook for the global tourism and hospitality industry,” published by Sutherland House Publishing.
Peggy sits on the Board of Directors of the Society of American Travel Writers; the Association of Travel Marketing Executives (; and Ecology Project International (, and is a former Board member of Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI) Destination and Travel Foundation and The International Ecotourism Society. She is a Past Chair and Board Member of the Public Relations Society of America’s Travel & Tourism Section.

An honors graduate of Georgian Court College (now University), Peggy was named to their Centennial “Court of Honor” (top 100 graduates), and studied at NYU’s Graduate School of Public Administration. She lives in Tucson, AZ along the Sutherland Trail.

Jim Hilbert is a retired medical imaging field engineer.  Graduating with an electrical engineering degree from Penn State University, he has spent 38 years working to improve the images that physicians use for diagnosis.  He has also used his talents in Guyana, South America on medical service work.

After living and working in northwest Pennsylvania, in 2004 he and his wife, Deb, moved to Tucson and discovered that they had moved to one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world.  Hiking throughout the Tucson area only increased his love and concern for the local environment.  He is a member of the local chapter of the Sierra Club and has volunteered for local organization such as Sky Island Alliance, BICAS, Ironwood Tree Experience, and Interfaith Community Services.

Jim is an avid woodworker, he also is a guitarist, hiker, backpacker, and cyclist,  but most of all a lover of nature who likes to get his hands dirty keeping Tucson better than anyplace on the globe.

Michael Nolan is an artist and teacher based in Tucson, Arizona. He earned both his BFA and MFA from the University of Arizona. Currently, he is the head of Design at Pima Community College in Tucson. Michael has shown in numerous exhibitions nationwide, including many state museum exhibitions. His work has been featured in multiple publications and annuals, notably American Illustration, 3 x 3, The Artist’s Magazine, Blue Canvas Magazine, Creative Quarterly, and the Society of Illustrators. Michael has been art director, cover artist, and illustrator on several literary publications for Starsys Publishing Company. He is represented through Baker + Hesseldenz in Tucson, AZ and The Lovett’s Gallery in Tulsa, OK.

David at Work

David at Work

David Christiana, president, has been making art since he was small child and his parents found him drawing on the wall.  He used his talent ever since to celebrate and champion nature. Since the time he was thirteen, he dreamed of coming to the west and to delve into its beauty. He was living in Harlem with his parents and would stare out the window imagining the rocky mountain he had seen in magazines, and longing for a different way of life.  When he applied for a job at Northern Arizona University as an assistant professor of art, and was hired, he got that chance.

Christiana is an accomplished fine artist and illustrator. He has published more than twenty five children's books which he has illustrated, several of which he also wrote.  He has also been included in national and international competitions for painting, especially of portraits.  In spring of 2015 he was selected to be part of an international show of portrait artists shown at the MEAM in Barcelona, Spain.

Besides coming up with the idea for the Genius Loci Foundation, he has also volunteered with the Sky Island Alliance, Watershed Management Project, Friends of Catalina Regional Park, and is a member of the Sonoran Deseret Coalition. 

In the spring of 2016, David's work "Portraits of Petrichor" wasshown at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff from March 12th, 2016 - May 30th.  This one person exhibition was a culmination of 20 years of work done on and about Sunset Crater National Monument and the Wapatki Loop. 

Christiana holds a BFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and an MFA from Syracuse University.  He has also devoted much of his time to teaching.  He is a full professor at the University of Arizona, where he has led young artists for 25 years, and has become a critical part of the study abroad program in Orvieto, Italy.


Kristie Atwood, vice president, is a native of Arizona and grew up in Flagstaff.  She completed all her schooling there, including a bachelor of fine arts from Northern Arizona University. Her childhood home was at the very base of Mount Elden, which had a profound affect on her love of nature and her place in the world.  Her father often took her hiking up into the canyons and crevices of the mountain. At the age of nine, she watched the south and east sides of Mount Elden burn to the ground in a human caused fire. 

Her parents always fostered her knowledge and love of nature and encouraged her to see the beauty and fragility of Arizona's wild places.  Atwood could see how much devastation was happening due to development, especially when she moved to Tucson in 1991. Since it has always been her dream to create a preserve, no matter how small, when she and David bought their land on Sutherland Trail, she could see the potential.

Kristie has been a volunteer for the Sky Island Alliance, Watershed Management Project, The Sonoran Desert Coalition, the Foundation for Animals at Risk and BARK, a rescue for young animals and their moms. In 2005, she and David traveled together to help rescue animals in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and Rita.

Atwood is an active artist in the community and internationally and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona.  She is excited about melding her talents and passions for other artists, protecting the land, and restoring it.

Tricia Loscher is the chief curator at Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West in Arizona. Loscher has a background in both non-profits and academia, and in addition to university teaching she was the curator and program director for the Heard Museum North. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in art history and education, with minors in Latin American art, anthropology, and museum studies.