Our staff has a wide range of professional experience, including non-profit management, bird conservation science, spatial ecology, habitat delivery, policy, strategic planning and communications, and contract management.

The IWJV staff works with a diversity of organizations, which include state and federal wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations, private landowners and corporations, among others. Each of our team members is dedicated to the conservation of priority bird habitats through partnership-driven, science-based projects and programs.

We bring people and organizations together to leverage technical and financial resources, building our collective capacity to achieve conservation at meaningful scales.

Learn more about our staff and how we can work with you.

Laurel Anders

Communications & Organizational Manager

Laurel trekked west in October 2016 to join the IWJV team. Her role is the lead communications and management staff working across all program areas. She facilitates planning, production, and implementation of strategic communications to build partnerships for habitat conservation and advance the IWJV’s mission. She also leads improvements to efficiency and effectiveness across the organization. Laurel brings with her 20+ years of state fish and wildlife agency experience, including the development, delivery, and evaluation of outreach and education programs, strategic planning, and creating collaborative work environments. When presented with an opportunity to live and work in the west, she accepted the call to apply her skill set to a new landscape, work environment, and partnership. Laurel earned a B.S. in Education with an emphasis in Environmental Education from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and is a Fellow of the National Conservation Leadership Institute. She enjoys hiking, running, bicycling, fishing, and hunting, and currently calls Montana’s Bitterroot Valley “home.”

Ed Contreras

SONEC Conservation Delivery Coordinator

Ed joined the IWJV team in November 2017 as the SONEC Conservation Delivery Coordinator for the Southern Oregon-Northeastern California (SONEC) region. He leads the SONEC Working Wet Meadows Initiative, a nationally-supported model for integrating wetlands conservation and agricultural production on flood-irrigated working ranchlands in one of the continent’s most important landscapes for waterfowl, shorebirds, and waterbirds. In this role, he works cooperatively with landowners to improve their flood-irrigation infrastructure, maintain sustainable ranching operations, and implement voluntary conservation practices. Ed earned degrees in wildlife biology and resource conservation from the University of Montana. He spent four years as a Range and Wildlife Conservationist with the Sage Grouse Initiative implementing science-based habitat projects that bridge wildlife and agricultural conservation objectives on working lands in Southwest Idaho. Ed enjoys fostering partnerships and building capacity for conservation in rural communities, and has a passion for working landscapes and rangelands. Outside of work, he enjoys fishing, hunting, riding, and skiing with his wife, Kara.

Duane Coombs

Outcome-Based Grazing Program Coordinator

Coombs brings 30 years of experience ranching on public lands to the role of the Outcome-Based Grazing Program Coordinator. Coombs led the team at Smith Creek Ranch when they were awarded the 2010 BLM Rangeland Stewardship Award and the Region VI Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and USFWS in 2016. Coombs sees the principals and practices used at Smith Creek Ranch as an important foundation to the transfer of conservation at a larger scale through the OBGA pilot program. Throughout the next three years, Coombs will visit each of the pilot ranches annually. He is helping facilitate the sharing of information and building a network among these ranches to share lessons learned and best practices. This opportunity fits in to the BLM-IWJV Partnering to Conserve Sagebrush Rangelands effort’s broader mission and purpose by recognizing and addressing the complexities of landscape management in the mixed estate found in the Intermountain West. By proactively addressing whole ranch operations, the BLM-IWJV partnership ensures sustainable rural communities and ecologically vibrant landscapes are achieved through a conservation-centric model.

Tina Dennison

Project Coordinator

Tina joined IWJV in January 2012 as Project Coordinator. As our lead ‘tracker,’ Tina helps with budget tracking and Sage Capacity Team accomplishment reporting, acts as our NAWCA liaison, supports the implementation of the BLM-IWJV sagebrush partnership, and assists with other projects that support the IWJV mission. Tina graduated from the University of Montana with a B.S. in Finance/Accounting and is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys running, biking, hiking, and spending time with family. She lives with her husband and children in Missoula.

Patrick Donnelly

Spatial Ecologist

As a spatial ecologist Patrick brings a unique biological skill set to the science capacity of the IWJV. His fundamental understanding of landscape ecology, field experience, and spatial modeling skills provide the expertise needed to develop and execute broad scale habitat conservation strategies necessary to meet continental avian population goals. During his tenure as senior scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southwest (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Patrick developed and led ecological inventory and monitoring efforts associated with the National Wildlife Refuge System. Prior to this, Patrick spent time working for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Forest Service developing land-cover classifications and landscape level habitat analysis and monitoring projects spanning 11 National Forests and three National Grasslands. Individual projects included annual landscape scale monitoring of Mexican Spotted Owl habitats, water use monitoring associated with agricultural and riparian habitats, and testing of airborne lek survey techniques for lesser prairie chickens. Patrick holds a B.S. in Geomorphology/Climatology and a M.S. in Geography/Biology, both from the University of New Mexico. Patrick’s office is located in Missoula.

Emily Downing

Water 4 Communications Specialist

Emily joined the IWJV team in January 2020 as the Communications Specialist for the Water 4 Initiative. Her role involves producing media that tells the story of emergent wetland habitats on private lands in the Intermountain West. Emily is fascinated by connections and how information, communication, and storytelling can influence human-to-human and human-to-landscape relationships. Her years as a guide in Northwestern Montana left her with a desire to learn more about land use and conservation from other perspectives, sending her back to school for a Master in Environmental Management from Western Colorado University. She also holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. In her free time, she is outside with her intrepid Montana Powder Hound, Lottie.

Ali Duvall

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Ali joined the IWJV in 2010, and has played a prominent role in supporting the mission and growth of this highly diverse and innovative public-private partnership. In her position as Director of Strategic Partnerships, she performs a variety of functions including the development of strategic partnerships and initiatives, increasing funding, bridging science and delivery, and organizational management and development. She earned a M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana where she studied community forests, terrestrial/aquatic systems ecology, and the social implications of conservation delivery. Ali has spent decades working in the field of collaborative conservation with a focus on transferring innovations, building capacity, and encouraging diversity and inclusion across multiple scales to deliver strategic habitat conservation for wildlife and communities. She is a graduate of the National Conservation Leadership Institute and has helped catalyze forums focused on leadership development using the principles of adaptive leadership. Ali lives in the big sky country of Montana and enjoys time with her daughter, family and friends, mindfulness and body practice, walks and hikes, fishing, art, travel, and anything that connects her to nature.

Mandi Hirsch

Sagebrush Collaborative Conservation Specialist

Mandi joined the IWJV team in April of 2019 as the Sagebrush Collaborative Conservation Specialist. In this position, Mandi leads the strategic, partner-driven conservation of sagebrush by helping implement the Partnering to Conserve Sagebrush Rangelands initiative. She works closely with an interdisciplinary team of staff members and partners to assist in expanding partnerships and conservation efforts across the western sagebrush sea. For seven years prior to joining IWJV, Mandi worked as a partner Rangeland and Wildlife Conservationist for the Sage Grouse Initiative led by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Lander, Wyoming. Mandi earned her Associate degree of Agricultural Business at Northeastern Junior College and continued her education at Colorado State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Rangeland Ecology and her Master of Science degree in Rangeland Ecosystem Science. Mandi lives and works in Crowheart, Wyoming, where she and her husband lease and manage their own ranching and haying operation. Mandi is a rancher at heart and by trade who has become an advocate and leader for the conservation and sustainability of western rangelands and the western way of life. Outside of work, you will find Mandi working with her husband on their ranch, fishing the Wind River, and enjoying time with her family and friends.

Brian McDonald

Operations & Administration Manager

Brian was born and raised in Helena, Montana. He moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Resource Conservation. After graduating, Brian served as a field crew member with the Montana Conservation Corps. He worked for the Blackfoot Challenge as a Program Coordinator for nine years before joining the Intermountain West Joint Venture in January 2013. Brian is very excited about the new experiences and challenges that lie ahead. When he is not working, Brian enjoys hiking, camping, and biking with his wife and daughters.

Joy Morris

Water 4 Coordinator

Joy joined the IWJV team in 2018 as the lead for the newly established Water 4 Program. Joy founded her career working on water and conservation challenges in Western landscapes. She brings extensive experience previously working as a restoration coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Walker Basin Water Program Director for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and the Water Conservation Director for the Walker Basin Conservancy. She has spent her career developing on-the-ground partnerships for land and water conservation working with farmers and ranchers to sustain their operations while achieving mutually beneficial conservation goals. Joy is passionate about strategic conservation through partnerships, developing common ground and trust, and finding creative solutions to support and enhance agricultural opportunities that benefit fish, wildlife, and overall landscape resiliency. Joy has a B.S. in Geology from New Mexico Tech and a M.S. in Hydrogeology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Outside of work, Joy and her family can be found roaming around the West camping, hiking, biking, skiing, and enjoying unique landscapes and beautiful places. 

Hannah Nikonow

Sagebrush Communications Specialist

As the IWJV’s Sagebrush Communications Specialist, Hannah implements communications support on the Partnering to Conserve Sagebrush Rangelands initiative to scale up collaborative sagebrush conservation on public and mixed ownership lands. This work entails the production of feature stories, photography, social media, fact sheets, field events, and videos, among many other forms of media. Hannah grew up in central Wyoming and holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. She spends her free time exploring public lands through fishing, hunting, and foraging with her pointing dogs.

Lori Reed

Operations Specialist

Lori was born and raised in Wyoming, though her ventures took her to several other places before landing in neighboring Montana. After receiving a B.S. in Finance from the University of Wyoming, she went east for an internship with then-U.S. Senator Craig Thomas in Washington, D.C. Lori’s passion for habitat conservation developed during her time in the Government Relations and External Affairs Department at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Following some explorations in Southeast Alaska and the West, she moved to Missoula. Since joining the IWJV in 2011, Lori has helped keep operations running smoothly through support to staff, partners, and the Management Board. She also puts her extensive event planning experience to work in the production of various IWJV meetings and field tours. Lori’s personal passions include playing outdoors and traveling around the world.

Dave Smith

IWJV Coordinator

As one of the Nation’s longest-tenured JV Coordinators, Dave played a key role in the development of the IWJV’s powerful, executive-level Management Board and the business model that has facilitated substantial organizational growth since 2007. Dave brings to the table expertise in working lands habitat conservation from 30 years of experience with the IWJV, a state fish and wildlife agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and a nongovernmental conservation organization. Dave spearheaded the IWJV’s efforts in identifying and communicating the value of working irrigated agricultural lands to migratory birds. He spurred development of the IWJV’s Water 4 Initiative, which conserves wet meadows and water for: irrigated agriculture; wildlife and fisheries habitat; groundwater recharge; and landscape resiliency in ways that matter to people. Dave also helped establish the Sage Grouse Initiative Strategic Watershed Action Team and forged a lasting partnership with ConocoPhillips. He holds a B.A. in Wildlife Management from California State University, Chico. Dave and his family live in Missoula, Montana. He loves hunting, fishing, kayaking, and engaging in youth sports with his three kids, Tara, Kyla, and Cole. In 2015, Dave was the recipient of the Gary T. Myers Bird Conservation Award.

Working together is always better

We’re always looking for new partners with mutually beneficial programs to advance projects that benefit birds and other wildlife, ranching, industry, and economic livelihoods of western communities and cultures.

Let's Work Together