Staff & Consultants





Staff & Directors

Sarah Milligan Toffler

Executive Director

Sarah Milligan-Toffler is Executive Director of C&NN. Sarah is a creative, energetic, and mission-driven leader who brings 25 years of experience in developing, funding, and implementing outdoor education and adventure programs that provide a deep connection to nature for people of all backgrounds and abilities.

Paxton Barnes

Director of City Initiatives

Paxton has over 20 years of experience connecting people of all ages to the natural world. Prior to joining C&NN she developed hands-on exhibits at living museums including the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, The New York Botanical Garden and the Maritime Aquarium. Paxton’s primary goal for all projects has been to create unique opportunities to engage with nature that leads to a lifelong love of the natural world.

CJ Goulding

Lead Organizer, Natural Leaders Network

CJ Goulding has worked with Washington’s North Cascades Institute introducing teens to backpacking and canoe camping trips, and has also served with the Student Conservation Association as a Community Crew Leader working with high school students in the city parks and green spaces of Seattle and Edmonds.

Margaret Lamar

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Margaret is a policy and program architect who connects environmental learning and play with the goals of achieving health and wellness for all children. She is a national leader in designing programs that increase outdoor physical activity, mental health, and healthy lifestyles for children and families.

Linda Madson


Linda joined the C&NN team in 2014, supporting all things administrative. As a daughter of farmers, she spent her childhood outside and wishes every child could do the same today. With a degree in music education, she is often found singing, playing piano, or going to concerts (often outdoors) with her husband and three children in Minneapolis.

Juan Martinez

Director of Leadership Development and the Natural Leaders Network

A proud product of south central Los Angeles, Juan D. Martinez is C&NN’s Director of Leadership Development and the Natural Leaders Network. His passion to empower individuals and youth led him to direct Sierra Club’s first environmental justice youth leadership academy in Los Angeles.

Amir Nia

Administrative Coordinator, Natural Leaders Network

Amir Nia, proud alumnus of California State University, Long Beach, serves as the Administrative Coordinator for the Natural Leaders Network. Amir works across initiatives to support organizational goals and coordinates logistics for NLN trainings.

Amy Pertschuk

Director of Network Communications

Amy Pertschuk is an award winning designer and internet entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in digital design and technology. In 1998, she co-founded, an online nature-discovery resource. Pertschuk manage the ever-expanding C&NN Web site and social media resources to serve the needs of the growing children and nature movement.

Janice Swaisgood

Director, Natural Families Network

Janice Swaisgood, C&NN’s Director of the Natural Families Network, brings passion and experience to the position. Prior to joining the C&NN team, she was a bilingual teacher for nearly 15 years, the majority of which she served underprivileged youth and families in the barrios of San Diego. Determined to build connections between youth, families, and schools, she built a Family Resource Center at her school, which led to increased parent and teacher involvement as well as student achievement.

Mollie Thompson

Program & Communications Manager

Mollie is the Program & Communications Manager for C&NN. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management and a Minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.  For nearly a decade, Mollie has played a key role in developing and implementing strategic programs for diverse audiences—ranging from science and sustainability programs for international scholars, to outdoor adventure programs for youth and families, to training programs for community leaders in the U.S. and abroad—all with the goal of bringing people closer to each other and nature, to foster lasting engagement and stewardship.


Robyn Bjornsson

Executive Assistant

Robyn Bjornsson is the executive assistant for C&NN. She provides support and administrative services for the network and responds to information requests. Prior to joining C&NN, Robyn worked with low income families in various non-profit organizations, primarily as a program director of a childcare subsidy program. Robyn received her bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and master’s degree in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. She spends her free time enjoying the outdoors with her husband and two daughters and in San Diego.

Cheryl Charles

Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., served as founding President and CEO of C&NN from April 2006 to July 2013. Cheryl is an innovator, entrepreneur, author, and educator who is among those instrumental in developing the worldwide movement to reconnect children and nature.

Avery CLeary

Avery Cleary is the co-founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Children in Nature Collaborative and leads C&NN’s initiative to connect, support and empower Grassroots Leaders. She currently guides the team of Grassroots Leaders and C&NN staff who are committed to creating avenues of access to the latest tools, resources and research on Network Leadership Principles and Strategies.

Cathy Jordan

Cathy Jordan, PhD, LP, pediatric neuropsychologist by training, is an associate professor in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. She is also an Extension Specialist in the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality. Cathy was the Executive Director of the University of Minnesota Extension’s Children, Youth and Family Consortium from 2004 until July, 2014. Cathy earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Wayne State University in 1991.

Martin LeBlanc

Natural Leaders Network Advisor

Martin LeBlanc is a leading voice in the movement to reconnect children and nature. As a teenager, Martin’s own life was turned around through an outdoor experience. Since then, he has gained experience in government and the non-profit sector to unite diverse partners toward the goal of giving each child an outdoor experience.










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