Board of Directors





The Children & Nature Network’s Board of Directors serves as its official governing and strategic oversight body. Board members are elected to their positions and represent professions from various industries and sectors.  Each an avid supporter and advocate of the children and nature movement, together their multidisciplinary expertise and skills are a critical factor in its continued success.

Stephan D. Nygren

Board Chair

round-nygren-138Stephan Nygren’s early career was in the hospitality industry, founding the Peasant Restaurant Group.  Steve and his wife, Marie, retired to a farm just outside Atlanta with their three daughters in 1994 and six years later, he became concerned about urban sprawl invading their adopted country paradise. In 2000, Steve led the effort to create the Chattahoochee Hills Country Alliance to bring together landowners, developers and conservationists to find a mutually-agreed upon solution for balanced growth.  Through two years of work and public meetings, a land use plan was adopted to preserve 70% of the 40,000 acres on the edge of Atlanta while providing 20% more housing than the traditional suburban sprawl yield. In 2004, the Nygrens began Serenbe to demonstrate an environmental concept for community development interlaced with agriculture activity and a range of housing choices mixed with shops, galleries, restaurants and an Inn located in the historic farm compound.  The result is reminiscent of century-old communities. For more information on Serenbe, you may visit Steve is an enthusiastic supporter of the work of the Children & Nature Network, attended his first C&NN conference in 2010, and joined the Board of Directors in 2014.

Lisa Moore

Vice Chair

round-moore-138Lisa Moore is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategic Services for PlayCore, a leading play and recreation company. In this role she is responsible for the company’s strategic services which includes market analysis and strategic planning, corporate communications & marketing, e-business, and human resources.  She also leads the Company’s Center for Professional Development overseeing a variety of independent research initiatives, national partnerships, curricula and programming development, advocacy initiatives and resources, and accredited professional development services that promote the value of play and recreation across the U.S. and Canada. Prior to PlayCore, Lisa served people of all abilities in a variety of educational and medical settings and is passionate about dynamic service delivery models that meet the unique needs of individuals, families, and communities.  Lisa is active in her professional and local communities, she believes in the power of outdoor play and recreation, and is committed to building communities through nature-rich play for children and families of all abilities.   She joined the Board of the Children & Nature Network in 2015.

Fran P. Mainella

Past Chair

round-mainella-138Fran Mainella is a Visiting Scholar at Clemson University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. She is also President of Fran Mainella Consulting,LLC.  Director Mainella served nearly six years as the 16th Director and the first woman to lead the U. S. National Park Service and served 12 years as Director of Florida’s State Parks.  She has also served as executive director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association and as president of both the National Recreation and Park Association and the National Association of State Park Directors. Recipient of numerous awards, Fran is the Outgoing Chair of the Children and Nature Network, having served as a member of C&NN’s Board of Directors since 2010. She is also Founding Co-Chair of the US Play Coalition, Chair of the Pugsley Award committee and Fellow of the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administrators, Chair of the Public Lands Advisory Council to the National Environmental Education Foundation, a member of Newsweek Magazine’s Environmental Advisory Board, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Park Trust, member of the Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation, member of the South Florida National Park Trust, and a highly-sought public speaker.

David Hartwell


round-hartwell-138David Hartwell is the former President of Bellcomb Technologies Incorporated, a world-leading manufacturer of composite panels used in industrial, non-aerospace applications and unique products that has an annual capacity of 40M square feet. He sold the business in 2015. David is active on a number of boards of privately-held businesses and assisting businesses with strategic and transitional issues. He is also active in many non-profit activities and serves on the boards of the Belwin Conservancy as its President, National Audubon Society, Land Trust Alliance, Island Conservation, Mississippi River Fund, Conservation Minnesota and the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council as Chair. David and his wife Elizabeth enjoy travel and often, but not often enough, go to distant places to birdwatch, see the countryside and hike.  A garden lover, his entire backyard is vegetables with the only grass in it being of the weed variety.  David’s record tomato plant reached 14’ high and provided great entertainment for his four grown children and seven grandchildren. David has been a supporter of the work of the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) since its earliest days. He joined the Board of Directors of C&NN in 2015.

Mohammed Lawal


round-lawal-138Mohammed is Principal and CEO of Lawal Scott Erickson, LSE Architects, a Minneapolis-based firm doing work across the U.S. LSE is a full service architectural, interior design and planning firm. An innovative leader in sustainable design, Mohammed has been the architect on many LEED certified buildings, including the first LEED certified building in Minnesota. Mohammed recently was the principal architect designing a new nature-centered facility to house Washburn Center for Children, Minnesota’s largest and most celebrated children’s mental health agency, serving children and families for 128 years. His firm recently helped with the pioneering design for the renovation of Minnesota’s Sun Ray Library, creating a model for libraries to integrate natural elements and gardens into the community’s library experience, or what the Children & Nature Network calls “naturebraries.”  LSE is currently providing construction management for the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium. In 1994, Mohammed founded the Architectural Youth Program (AYP), a highly successful program to mentor urban youth in architecture. Mohammed has received numerous awards, including the prestigious National American Institute of Architects (AIA) Young Architect Award. Mohammed joined the Children & Nature Network Board of Directors in 2012.

Jesús Aguirre


JesusJesús Aguirre has served as the Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation since June 2015. Aguirre began his career as a middle school science teacher in Los Angeles in the 1990s and most recently, served as the State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. Prior to that role, Aguirre served as the director of the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. Aguirre is a proud father of three children attending public schools. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the WP Carey School of Business at the Arizona State University.

Kim Moore Bailey


KimBaileyKim Moore Bailey, Oakland, CA, serves as the Executive Director for Youth Outside. Inspired by her own passion for the outdoors and years of both professional and personal experiences, Kim focuses on Youth Outside’s strategic direction, grantmaking portfolio, and working to develop the critical connections required to engage underrepresented youth to nature and to encourage the capacity building of the organizations supported. Prior to joining Youth Outside, Kim served as Vice President for Outward Bound Inc., Manager of Denver Parks and Recreation for the City and County of Denver, and was a Regional Manager for the Chicago Parks District. In these roles, she led programs to engage urban youth in the outdoors in new ways – including spearheading a public-private partnership that resulted in the country’s first urban snowboarding park. Kim holds a Master’s Degree from New York University in Counselor Education. She enjoys spending time with her loved ones, yoga and being outdoors.

Nancy Herron


round-herron-138Nancy Herron joins the Board of Directors of the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) in 2015 after serving as a C&NN Senior Associate and on the grassroots leadership team since the early days of C&NN. Nancy is a retired Outreach and Education Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, with over 21 years of experience in nature and outdoor recreation education. She is the recipient of multiple awards in leadership and education innovation. She has been a director of several non-profits, a teacher, a reporter and columnist. Some of the highlights of her career include co-founding a five-county hospice in rural Kansas, director of a respite care center for children with disabilities in Virginia, a teacher of children with learning disabilities and a VISTA volunteer for adult literacy. Nancy is co-founder of Texas Children in Nature (TCiN), a consortium of regional collaboratives with over 400 organizations who share the vision of reconnecting Texans with nature. Each region reflects its own character and needs while guided by TCiN’s strategic plan, the development of which Nancy led and coordinated. Shortly after its release, Nancy was asked to direct a similar effort to create Texas’ Environmental Literacy Plan, a plan that former First Lady Laura Bush then launched.

Clay Johnson


round-herron-138Clay Johnson has spent the last decade working on making government more responsive and accessible to ordinary people. He is currently the Chairman of the Department of Better Technology, a company that builds technology that helps government open itself up to the communities that it serves. Prior to that he was a Presidential Innovation Fellow in the Obama Administration, working to help improve access for small internet businesses to government contracts. Johnson was one of four founders of Blue State Digital, the technology company that spun out of Governor Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, and went on to build the politically transformative website, in 2008. He was also the Director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation, the organization that pioneered the use of technology to open government data.
Johnson is also the author of the national bestselling book “The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption,” which explores the parallels between industrialized agriculture and industrialized media. He’s been a commentator on NPR, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, and his editorials have appeared the LA Times and the New York Times. He lives with his wife and children in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia

Svante L. Myrick


Svante L. Myrick was sworn into office in January 2012 and became, at 24, the City of Ithaca’s youngest Mayor and first Mayor of color. Svante was first elected to the Common Council at the age of 20 while still a junior at Cornell.

Svante has changed the way people in Ithaca view public space by turning his dedicated mayoral parking space into a public park, after years without them he’s brought fireworks back to the City on the 4th of July and he’s moved Ithaca into the 21st century by embracing social media and overhauling the City’s web presence.

His 2015 accomplishments include sorely needed revisions to the City of Ithaca’s sidewalk policy, an overhaul of storm water utility legislation, successful implementation and completion of the total rehabilitation of the Commons, Ithaca’s downtown pedestrian mall, and making changes within the Ithaca Police Department in an effort to improve police and community relations.

He ran and won to serve another four year term as Mayor of the City of Ithaca leading with a commanding 89% of the vote in 2015. In February 2016 Mayor Myrick released the Ithaca Plan: a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drugs and Drug Policy that garnered international attention for its forward thinking. Mayor Myrick has also gained some accolades for strengthening Ithaca’s Sanctuary City status for refugees.

David Orr


David W. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College. The Oberlin Project was formed out of David Orr’s vision of full-spectrum sustainability: an all encompassing joint venture by the town and College to create a thriving, sustainable and environmentally friendly community in Oberlin. He is the recipient of six honorary degrees and other awards including The Millennium Leadership Award from Global Green, the Bioneers Award, the National Wildlife Federation Leadership Award, a Lyndhurst Prize acknowledging “persons of exceptional moral character, vision, and energy.” His career as a scholar, teacher, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur spans fields as diverse as environment and politics, environmental education, campus greening, green building, ecological design, and climate change. He is the author of seven books and co-editor of three others. In addition to serving on the Board of the Children & Nature Network, he has served as a Trustee for many organizations including the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and the Bioneers. He has been a Trustee and/or advisor to ten foundations.

Amy Pertschuk


Amy Pertschuk is a co-founder of the Children & Nature Network and served as C&NN’s Managing Director (2006 – 2011) and Director of Network Communications (2012 – 2016). With a focus on organizational development, grassroots movement building, and online community engagement, Pertschuk helped establish C&NN as a leader in the movement to reconnect children to the natural world. Prior to C&NN, Pertschuk co-founded, an online nature-discovery resource and Communication Wave, an award winning  multi-media design studio specializing in interactive exhibits for museums and aquariums.

Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP


round-pont-138Stephen Pont serves as the founding medical director for the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity.  Dr. Pont also serves as the medical director for Austin Independent School District’s Student Health Services with more than 85,000 students and 120 campuses.  Additionally, he works with a team including the UT-School of Public Health and the USDA/Baylor College of Medicine on a CDC Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Project. He is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics with UT Austin Dell Medical School and an adjunct Professor in the UT-Austin Departments of Advertising and Nutrition. Dr. Pont works with many organizations to promote health and to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, including Marathon Kids, Children’s Optimal Health, Latino Healthcare Forum, Texas Department of Agriculture, Fitnessgram and the Texas Medical Association.  He is the Founding Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Obesity. Dr. Pont and his team work with patients and communities to improve health, locally, nationally and internationally, through multidisciplinary individual and group programs, leading advocacy efforts and spreading healthy messages in English and Spanish through TV, radio, internet, and print.  Dr. Pont became a member of the Children & Nature Network Board of Directors in 2015.

Sophie Sarkar


round-sarkar-138Sophie Sarkar is currently an MSc Candidate in Regional and Urban Planning Studies at the London School of Economics. Sophie hails from Philadelphia, PA where she worked for several years as a Planner with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program. In this role she built innovative partnerships with institutions and communities to tackle issues around environmental injustice and outdoor access. Some highlights from her experience include working with middle schoolers in North Philly to transform their concrete playground into a community playscape; supporting residents in West Philadelphia to create a vibrant neighborhood greenway; and organizing urban canoeing programs for over 4,000 public school students and families in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Sophie is an emerging visual artist, a Natural Leaders Legacy Camp alumnae, and was recognized on the inaugural Outdoor 30 Under 30.

Richard Louv

Chair Emeritus

round-louv-138Richard Louv is co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network and the author of eight books, including Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder and The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age (Algonquin). His books have been translated into 12 languages and published in 17 countries, and helped launch the international movement to connect children and their families to nature. He is the recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal. He has served as an adviser to the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award program, is a member of the Citistates Group, serves on the editorial board of Ecopsychology and appears often on national radio and television programs, including the Today Show, CBS Evening News, and NPR’s Fresh Air, and travels frequently to address international gatherings. In 2010, he delivered the plenary keynote at the national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and in 2012 was keynote speaker at the first White House Summit on Environmental Education. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Times of London, Orion, Outside and other newspapers and magazines, and was a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Parents magazine.










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