Board & Staff
Board of Directors
Vaughn Hadenfeldt, Chair
From Colorado mountaineering store owner and climbing guide Vaughn took his love of the outdoors – and his wife and daughter – to Utah and turned his passion for the archaeologically rich desert into life as a world renowned guide in southeastern Utah. As owner and guide of Far Out ExpeditionS® he shares his knowledge of the cultural and natural histories of the landscape with visitors from all corners of the globe while emphasizing the ethics and understanding of exploring those sites.
Vaughn’s early work and interest in high altitude archaeology as an anthropology major at Colorado State University, later developed into his total commitment to southwest archaeology – specifically in the Cedar Mesa region. He has worked with leading local archaeologists on documentation and excavation projects throughout the area. Notable projects include the Weatherill Grand Gulch Research Project, Earthwatch/BLM Basketmaker Rock Art Documentation Project and many times as part of the Ababjo Archaeology crew.
It is his fascination and appreciation for this region that has propelled him to his place as President of Friends of Cedars Mesa. Vaughn strives to emphasize the importance of protecting Cedar Mesa and the surrounding area to preserve the prehistory it showcases as well as the scenic wonder it displays. Together with his understanding of the archaeology and his enthusiasm for sharing it, Vaughn incorporates a sense of place into everything he does.
Bruce Hucko, Vice-Chair
Greetings! I’m a freelance photographer, author, children’s art coach and documentary radio producer whose work celebrates people and places in the American West. My work is featured in over 17 books and I have contributed to many more. I’ve produced two NPS interpretive slide shows (Arches NP and Organ Pipe NM) and the Utah Humanities Council award winning The Canyon’s Edge, a 40-minute, 8-projector, 400-image visual and verbal homage to the Colorado Plateau co-photographed by Tom Till with text and narration by Terry Tempest Williams. I’ve also produced shows for the Utah Wilderness Association, SUWA and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.
From 1978 until 1989, I lived in Montezuma Creek, San Juan County, on the Utah Strip of the Navajo Reservation where I served as classroom teacher and artist-in-education. That period began an involvement with Indian people that continues to this day. Premier among that work was the exhibit “Have You Ever Seen a Rainbow at Night? The Art Of Navajo Children.” That work has been released in book form as A Rainbow at Night (44-pages, Chronicle Books, 1997). In 1984, I received a Rockefeller Bros. Fund Award for Excellence in Arts Education.
After a decade among the Navajo, I moved to New Mexico to become Director of Education at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian (2 years) and worked for seven years in northern Pueblo communities. Where There Is No Name For Art: The Art of Tewa Pueblo Children (120 pages, School of American Research Press, 1997) is the result of that relationship. For that book I received a 1998 Southwest Book Award and the 1997 Carey McWilliams Award given by Multicultural Review Magazine as “the best book of the year on the U.S. experience of cultural diversity.”
In 1999, I moved to Moab where I now serve as Art Coach at HMK Elementary School, help coordinate the Moab Artists Studio Tour, own/direct the Moab Photography Symposium (in its 12th year) and pursue fine art photography.
Why am I involved with Friends of Cedar Mesa? While living in Montezuma Creek, Cedar Mesa became my backyard. It was simply the closest place to go to take a decent hike! Since high school the Needles District of Canyonlands NP was my favorite landscape. Cedar Mesa is its sister. While working in Montezuma I met Fred Blackburn. That enduring friendship led me to be lead photographer and team member of the Wetherill-Grand Gulch Research Project which led to the publication of Cowboys and Cave Dwellers: Basketmaker archaeology in Utah’s Grand Gulch, School of American Research Press, 1997.
That project took me deep into the canyons and deep into my personal work photographing archaeological sites. Like the wilderness photos I have always made I felt a resonance with the country, the by-gone cultures and in its protection. Several years ago Mark Meloy contacted me and asked me to consider being on the board. To have him ask was quite a compliment and the need to give back to a land that has given me so much surged forward and I said “yes!” Why am I on this board? I am helping to protect my backyard, a landscape that I cherish, for past, present and future generations.
Learn more about Bruce and his photography at: www.brucehuckophoto.com
Tamara Wiggans Desrosiers, Secretary
Joette Langianese, Treasurer
Joette Langianese moved to Utah in 1976 and received her undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She moved to San Francisco, CA in 1988 where she completed her Master’s degree in Gerontology. She found that she left her heart in Utah especially after she met her husband in Moab. She returned to Utah residing in Moab since 1997.
Once back in Utah Joette quickly became involved with a variety of community issues and was elected to two terms on the Grand County Council beginning in 2001. As a County Council member Joette took the lead in ensuring that 16 million tons of uranium tailings were moved from the banks of the Colorado River. Her collaborative effort with local, state, and federal leaders was proven effective when the Department of Energy issued the record of decision to move the tailings and allocated one billion dollars needed to complete project. During her tenure on the Grand County Council she was appointed by Governor Jon Huntsman to serve on the Utah Radiation Control Board and the Utah State Commission on Aging.
Joette is currently the Executive Director of the Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks and works closely with the National Park Service Southeast Utah Group to ensure they are able to effectively achieve their mission to protect and preserve the southeast Utah National Parks. The Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks offer a variety of programs including a Volunteer Site Stewardship Program that works in conjunction with the National Park’s Cultural Resource Division. The Site Stewardship Program assists the national park in monitoring sensitive archeology and historic sites within the four parks of southeast Utah.
In her spare time Joette enjoys hiking remote canyons, rafting the many western rivers, and back country skiing in the La Sal and Wasatch mountains.
Rose Chilcoat, Director
Rose grew up in the East (outside of Baltimore, MD) where her family roots go back hundreds of years. She was raised in a family that valued the natural world and for her the loss of many of the stunning natural places in the east home spurred her to leave. She’d seen the changes that “progress” and an ever growing population could wreck on place. For 13 years she was with the U.S. Forest Service or National Park Service, working as a park ranger at Mesa Verde NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Rocky Mountain NP and Coulee Dam NRA and ultimately in the Alaska Regional Office of the Park Service where she worked as a Concessions Analyst – managing over 350 commercial service providers in the Alaska parks and watching change come to places as they were “discovered”. She returned to Durango in 1993 to raise her family and found her true conservation calling in 2001 with Great Old Broads for Wilderness where she served as Associate Director until her retirement in 2016. She continues to be involved with this national organization to inspire and engage the voices and activism of elders to preserve and protect wilderness and wild lands.
An explorer, hiker, rafter, gardener, Rose is an indefatigable advocate for protecting our remaining wild places and for better management of our amazing legacy of public lands. She makes no distinction prioritizing protection of natural or cultural resources – both deserve better management than our underfunded land managers can provide.
Greg Child, Director
Greg Child has resided in Castle Valley, Utah, for two decades. His fondness for the canyon country surrounding him, and for Cedar Mesa in particular, developed during the height of his career as a climber and explorer of the world’s most rugged mountain ranges. His many Himalayan climbs and expeditions include successful ascents of Everest and K2, which are the two highest peaks on earth, and he’s written several books about climbing. He values the landscapes of Southeast Utah for being as unique and wild and significant as any place he’s explored in the Arctic or Himalayas.
David Nimkin, Director
David Nimkin is the Senior Southwest Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy organization of over one million members and supporters dedicated to the protection of our national parks, monuments and heritage sites. His diverse career has included leadership positions in business, finance, community development, politics as well as conservation. This includes service as Chief of Staff for Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, formation and management of a private company, Confluence Associates, which supported sustainable business development in the western US and Mexico within the forest products, ranching/livestock and tourism industries. David has served as State Director of the Utah Small Business Development Centers, President and CEO for the Corporate Fund for Housing in Los Angeles and as Executive Director of Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services.
His civic duties include founder and longtime board chair for the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, founder and co-chair of Local First Utah. He was a former board chair and board member of High Country News. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Salt Lake City Branch and Vice Chair of the FRB of San Francisco Advisory Council on Small Business and Agriculture.
David’s educational background includes an MBA from the Yale School of Management, MSW from the University of Utah and BA from Franklin and Marshall College.
John Ruple, Director
John fell in love with Cedar Mesa two decades ago, while backpacking through Grand Gulch. He is dedicated to finding science-based, legally defensible, and collaborative opportunities to enhance public land management; and he joined the Friends Board because of our solution-oriented approach to stewardship. John is an Associate Professor of Law (Research) and Wallace Stegner Center Fellow at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Before joining the University of Utah in 2008, John worked as policy analyst in Governor Jon Huntsman Jr.’s Public Lands Office, as an environmental attorney in private practice, and as a NEPA contractor specializing in permitting projects on National Forest System lands. When not in the office, John can be found hiking around Cedar Mesa or rafting the San Juan River.
Ed Dobson, Emeritus
Bill Lipe, Emeritus
Josh Ewing, Executive Director
An avid climber, hiker and photographer, Josh moved to Bluff in 2012 with his partner Kirsten. Having visited San Juan County for 12 years, every chance they could, the two decided they may as well live where their hearts were.
Josh was born and raised in rural western Nebraska, where his family maintains an active cattle ranch. After attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Josh began his career as the Communications Director for Salt Lake City, where he worked on the City’s 2002 Olympics planning and was involved with many environmental and conservation projects. After leaving the Mayor’s Office, Josh worked for nine years as an advertising and government affairs executive. During this time, Josh helped run several successful high-level political campaigns and provided pro-bono public relations work for many conservation organizations.
Josh has served on several non-profit boards. In addition to his leadership of Friends of Cedar Mesa, Josh also serves as town techie for Bluff, as well as volunteering on the Fire Department.
Amanda Podmore, Assistant Director
Amanda’s work with Friends of Cedar Mesa has a focus on policy but like most non-profit jobs, Amanda wears “many hats.” She has a Masters in Natural Resource Law from the University of Denver and a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Colorado College. She has worked professionally with different non-profits concerned with watershed conservation & education, mining impacts, and sustainable development. She volunteered as a teacher in Rwanda with the Peace Corps from 2009-2011.
Amanda Podmore grew up in Colorado and spent as many weekends as she could rafting desert canyons, skiing and hiking. She’s since fallen in love with Southeast Utah and Cedar Mesa. Amanda is a jeweler and loves a good read.
Erica Tucker, Visit with Respect Program Manager
Erica brings a background of environmental education and park service interpretation to the Friends of Cedar Mesa. She worked many years in Yosemite National Park as an educator and as a seasonal park ranger before stepping into nonprofit management with NatureBridge in the San Francisco Bay Area. Erica also worked for a nonprofit organization focused on protecting Mono Lake in eastern California, which gave her a good taste of rural life and its tightly knit small community. Originally from Vermont, Erica has a BA in Anthropology from Connecticut College. She is a lifelong adventurer, birder, and naturalist who loves exploring desert canyons by foot, boat and rope. She is excited to engage with visitors in her new backyard national monument, and she hopes to move her hand-built tiny house to Bluff soon!