Board & Staff
Board of Directors
Vaughn Hadenfeldt, President
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.
Greg Child, Vice President
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.
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.
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.
Steve Simpson, Director
Marcia Simonis, Director
Marcia Simonis has lived in the Southwest for over 40 years. She studied Anthropology and Archaeology, and has worked on numerous excavations and inventories of prehistoric and historic sites in AZ., CO., and UT. She has also worked for the Native American Education Program as a Home/School Liaison for Mesa Public Schools in AZ for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Tribes. She also volunteered as a Regional Coordinator for the Arizona Site Steward Program.
Marcia visited Cedar Mesa with her husband over 25 years ago on a camping/backpacking trip and was overwhelmed by the experience of this “Special Place.” She feels very fortunate to be part of this effort to protect Cedar Mesa and educate the public about why the archaeology of Cedar Mesa is so important. She’s proud to call Bluff, Utah home with her husband and two dogs.
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 and program management 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!
Britt Hornsby, Field Manager
Britt Hornsby moved to San Juan County in 2007 after receiving his bachelor’s of English from Auburn University. He worked with Four Corners School of Outdoor Education as Program Coordinator and Program Manager of Canyon Country Youth Corps. From 2011 to 2017, Britt worked as a seasonal river ranger for the Bureau of Land Management on the San Juan River. He lives in Bluff, Utah with his wife Sarah.
Wanda Raschkow, Statewide Site Steward Coordinator
Wanda is originally from Montana. While living in Montana, she made yearly visits to Cedar Mesa and fell in love with this area. Watching the sun rise on the bluffs has been surreal- it’s hard for her to believe she now lives in Bluff.
Her first job in archeology was with the Sanpete Ranger District on the Manti-La Sal Forest. She has also worked in Montana, Wyoming, and California with the Forest Service, BLM, and Park Service.
Wanda’s experience with site stewardship includes working with the California and Nevada Site Stewardship programs- training and mentoring stewards for the Palm Springs BLM, Joshua Tree National Park, and Death Valley National Park. She has helped conduct advanced trainings in site recordation techniques and developed educational materials for stewardship trainings. Wanda taught field skills at the Bureau of Land Management’s National Training Center and for several archeology field schools.
Wanda believes public outreach and education are critical to protecting our heritage. Site stewards are an important part of reaching the public: they often interact with visitors at archeological sites and become ambassadors for the resources. This is in addition to their fundamental role of keeping an eye on the sites and documenting damage- whether natural or human-caused.
“Site stewards are great people- enthusiastic and committed, eager to learn more about archeology and to share that knowledge with others. I am looking forward to working with stewards and agency archeologists to develop a site stewardship program for Utah.”