Our Staff & Board

Kristin Gardner, PhD

Executive Director

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Kristin has led the Gallatin River Task Force since 2007. Prior to that, she had been working on the Gallatin River for many years, conducting her doctoral research that examined land use impacts on water quality and serving as a Big Sky Institute fellow at Ophir School. Originally from Maine, she moved west with a background in Water Resource Engineering and Environmental Policy from Tufts University and experience working with the Nantucket Land Council and the Nantucket community on ground water quality issues. Kristin has published her work in several scientific journals, including Water Resources Research and Ground Water. Kristin and her husband, JJ, son, Elijah, and yellow lab, Althea, reside in Big Sky and spend as much time as possible exploring the outdoors in and beyond Montana.

Ryan Newcomb, Director of Development

Ryan Newcomb

Director of Development

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Ryan joined the Task Force in November of 2018 as Director of Development after relocating to Montana from Washington, DC. For ten years in the Nation’s Capital, Ryan led an array of diverse efforts to raise funding, partnerships, and development for national nonprofit organizations and local grassroots efforts. As a native Texan and Eagle Scout, Ryan attended and graduated from the University of North Texas before working for the President of the United States as a White House Appointee. From there, he turned his passion for politics into raising funding and support for causes near and dear to his heart. It is Ryan’s goal at the Task Force to ensure that the Gallatin River and Watershed are around forever by increasing support from the Big Sky Community, the Greater Yellowstone area, and beyond. He is thrilled to be living in Montana with his two dogs, enjoying hiking, running, and the outdoors in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Emily O’Connor

Conservation Program Manager

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The Gallatin River Task Force welcomes Emily O’Connor as Conservation Project Manager. Emily brings over 10 years of experience in natural resource management and recreation planning and is thrilled to support the Task Force in achieving its water conservation and restoration goals. “A healthy Gallatin River watershed is fundamental to our livelihood. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to partner with the Big Sky community to improve water conservation and efficiency for a sustainable future.” 

Isabella Vendramin

Finance and Operations Associate

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Isabella is from Irvington, New York. She graduated from Colgate University in May where she majored in Environmental Science and minored in Anthropology. Isabella interned with the Task Force for the past two summers, assisting with water and algae sampling, educating the Big Sky community about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, canvassing for citizen and business endorsements of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and helping out with the summer’s major fundraising events. “I have noticed how important public involvement and support is to having a healthy relationship with a river, thus I wanted to get involved with an organization that is so devoted to their work to keep the river healthy while also ensuring access to plentiful, clean water for their community.”

Gallatin River Task Force Staff

Jessica Olson

Big Sky Watershed Corps Member

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Jessica grew up in central Massachusetts and got her B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from the University of New Hampshire in 2018. After college, Jess went to work for North Carolina State Parks teaching environmental education to local elementary students, with a focus on wetland ecology and water quality. Jessica is thrilled to join the Gallatin River Task force to learn about watershed health and become a better environmental steward. When not serving with the Big Sky Watershed Corps, Jess hopes to spend most of her time hiking and exploring Montana’s great outdoors.

Mark Castaneda

Conservation Fellows

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​Mark Castaneda grew up in Massachusetts, where his passion for the natural environment first arose during his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout. He then completed a Bachelor’s dual-degree in Organizational Studies and Environment at the University of Michigan, focusing on nonprofit organizations and their role in creating sustainable change. In college, he was involved in organizations dedicated to holistic mental health and sustainability. Mark recently graduated (as of May 2021!), and is absolutely thrilled about his recent relocation to Montana. As a Conservation Fellow and Americorps member with Montana Conservation Corps, he is excited to explore the Gallatin and the world of water conservation, hydrology, and community partnerships! Outside of the Task Force, Mark loves reading, mountain meadows, cozy coffee shops, and exploring the outdoors.

The Gallatin River Task Force is governed by a board of community members representing a wide variety of stakeholders including: environmental managers, water resource professionals, business owners, realtors, and homeowners.

Ennion Williams

Board Chair

Ennion Williams has lived in Big Sky for 28 years. Ennion spent many years working at Lone Mountain Ranch where he fulfilled several roles as a chef, fishing guide, manager, and ultimately, General Manager. From there, he went on to become General Manager for Big Sky Vacation Rentals and he now acts as V.P. of Events for The Outlaw Partners. He served on the Big Sky CVB and was a board member of Visit Big Sky for many years. He has a passion for the outdoors and floating down rivers around Southwest Montana. As a fly fishing guide for the past 25 years, clean mountain water is very important to his livelihood and is a driving force in his interest in joining the GRTF board. Ennion looks forward to promoting the Task Force’s mission and participating in projects that preserve the Gallatin River.

Rich Chandler

Vice Chair

Rich was born outside of Seattle, WA and began skiing and fishing at a very young age. He moved to Big Sky in 1995 to better explore his love for the outdoors. Through this journey he has been a professional ski patroller for a total of 14 years. Since 2001 Rich has been employed by the Yellowstone Club where he currently manages the environmental performance of the company as well as managing the summer trails program. Rich brings knowledge and experience in the fields of land reclamation, recreational development, and environmental compliance to the Gallatin River Task Force. He currently lives outside of Belgrade with his wife and two children. Away from work, Rich enjoys spending time on skis, pedaling his bike, hiking a mountain with a bow in hand, or carefully waiting for a fish to take a fly.

Heather Budd


Heather Budd has lived and worked full time in Big Sky since 1997. Having witnessed the huge growth in Big Sky and the Greater Gallatin Valley, she believes the health of the Gallatin and our water supply need protection and monitoring to ensure viability and accessibility for future generations. The Gallatin is very grounding and calming for her, and she could never imagine a Big Sky without its fresh water and beauty threading along the canyon. Helping further the mission of the Task Force and making a lasting positive impact on protecting the Gallatin is her goal on the board, and she encourages all Big Sky residents to learn about the river and the surrounding integrated ecosystem so we can better understand and protect it. When she isn’t working as the CFO of Highline Partners, you can find her fly fishing, floating, and relaxing on the river’s edge.


Mike Richter


Mike caught a ride to Big Sky in 1991 and has been snowboarding in the area ever since. He has a bachelors degree in Environmental Geology from Ohio University and began working for the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology in 1995. Mike collects ground water data from participating landowners across Montana for the Ground Water Information Center (GWIC) database. He lives with his wife, Jodi, at Karst in the Gallatin Canyon and enjoys long pow runs, safe skin tracks, catching fish until his arm hurts, and friendly Big Sky, Montana.

JeNelle Johnson

Board Member

JeNelle has been visiting Big Sky since the early 90s and has been a full-time resident since 2014. She was a scholarship athlete at the University of Minnesota and graduated with an accounting degree. She was hired as an auditor by Dayton Hudson Corp and eventually became a clothing buyer. JeNelle and her husband Fred moved to Singapore in 1996. That move was followed by four additional overseas adventures. She and Fred live in Grey Drake with their cats, Lenin and Marx. JeNelle enjoys skiing, hiking, visiting art galleries, and traveling. She serves on the Grey Drake HOA Board, volunteers for BSCO and the Arts Council, and has been an active Task Force volunteer since 2015.

Michael Jacquard

Board Member

Michael grew up in Jamestown, Rhode Island, a small island in Narragansett Bay. After attending Assumption College, he returned to Jamestown to become the Food and Beverage Director at the Bay Voyage Hotel in 2000. Michael was an active member of the community in Jamestown. He was a Chamber of Commerce board member and also sat on the Planning Commission for over 6 years.  Looking for a lifestyle change, Michael moved to Big Sky in the fall of 2014 after accepting the General Manager position at the Lotus Pad Restaurant and now is the Food and Beverage Director at Lone Mountain Ranch. Michael loves to play in the mountains and in the water. He is an avid skier, hiker, golfer, and fisherman and is extremely grateful to call Big Sky home.

Ron Edwards

Board Member

Ron has been the General Manager of the Big Sky County Water & Sewer District 363 for the past 20 years. Prior to this position, he served as the Manager for the Green Lake Sanitary District, a summer lake resort community located in Green Lake, Wisconsin, from 1988 to 1995. He has a Masters degree in Water Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Bachelors degree in Geology from the University of Montana. Prior to 1988 he worked as a petroleum geologist in the Williston Basin. Ron and his family have lived in the Four Corners area since 1997. He and his wife Karla have 3 children: a daughter, and 2 sons. Ron enjoys golf and hunting and serves as the President of the Bozeman American Legion baseball program.

Rob McRae

Board Member

Rob grew up at the base of Mt. Mansfield in Underhill, VT in a farmhouse full of engineers. In 1998, he graduated from the University of Vermont with a BA in History and Economics. His studies brought him to South Africa in 1996 and inspired a diverse wave of experiences, including a year-long trip around the world in 2001, after moving out west to Colorado in 1998. While in Colorado, Rob was a competitive mountain bike and ski racer and started to focus on a career in building. Rob moved to Montana in 2002 and expanding on his previous building experience started working for CK Design & Construction as a site supervisor. In 2007, Rob and Todd Thesing started Highline Partners Ltd. Rob’s pursuit of constant improvement and new technologies are evident in his own personal projects as well as at Highline Partners. His passion for adventure is highlighted by raising his family in Montana with his wife and rediscovering a love for the mountains through this experience. Rob received his LEED AP accreditation in May 2009.

Bill Collins

Board Member

Bill Collins has led the Sales and Marketing Team at Yellowstone Club since late 2009. During his tenure at Yellowstone Club, he led the sales efforts resulting in over $3.4 billion in transaction volume. Prior to joining Yellowstone Club, Bill was a Managing Director with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and its predecessor Spaulding & Slye (S&S). During his 18 year career at JLL/S&S, he specialized in advising institutional owners and tenants in their real estate strategy, analysis, and execution. During his last five years at JLL, he was the Managing Director of the Downtown Boston Leasing Team and was a member of the Executive Committee. He has been a frequent speaker and expert panelist for many commercial and resort real estate organizations. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College, has sat on numerous boards, and currently resides in Big Sky, Montana with his wife, Shannon, and daughter, Elizabeth. He is an avid fly fisherman, skier, golfer, and reader.

Task Force Staff

Linda Meade

Board Member

Linda grew up in St. Louis, MO, not far from the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, near the jumping off point for the Corps of Discovery’s journey. From her earliest days, her desire was to be outside, enjoying nature’s beauty and adventure. After studying accounting in college, Linda determined that a desk in an office was not her dream, and thus began a 37-year career with Southwest Airlines as a flight attendant. Trip bidding was driven by which destinations provided the best outdoor activities after she finished work. Linda and her husband, Jack, have visited southwest Montana regularly since the mid 1990s, and happily moved to Big Sky in 2010. These days, you will find her hiking, skiing, paddling, fishing, snowshoeing, camping, or walking with her golden retriever, Rosie. Many of her activities take place near, in, or on the Gallatin River and its tributaries. The Gallatin River Watershed is near and dear to her heart, and working to keep the waters healthy and viable is a welcomed challenge.


Task Force Staff

Eric Ladd

Board Member

Eric Ladd is the founder and CEO of Outlaw Partners, L&K Real Estate, and Boundary Expeditions. With over 30 years of experience in real-estate sales and development, marketing, events, media, restaurant management, resort operations and expedition guiding, Eric has worked in leadership or consulting capacities with brands including Vail Resorts, Yellowstone Club, Big Sky’s evolving Town Center, Baldface Cat Skiing, and Everlands. Eric has a strong entrepreneurial passion supporting charity organizations that focus on preservation of land, rivers, and wildlife, and is also involved with charitable groups supporting orphans in Nepal and the efforts to support clean water and open lands. In 2010, Eric co-founded L&K Real Estate, a development and consulting boutique brokerage based in Big Sky, Montana. Eric launched Boundary Expeditions in 2016, operating multi-day river rafting trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. His passion for wilderness, rivers, and guiding has never subsided after learning to guide at the age of 15 and later completing expeditions including the 2007 first descent of the Salween River in Tibet and the 2009 high-water descent of the Yangtze River in China. He is an avid skier, golfer, fisherman, and hiker. His passion for adventure on rivers and in the mountains is why he chooses to help protect the Gallatin River Watershed.


Task Force Staff

Christine Sundnas

Board Member

Originally from Idaho and Wyoming, Christine has witnessed rapid change in several western mountain communities. She moved to Bozeman in 2007 and after completing a B.S. and an M.S. in Environmental Science, Christine started with the Gallatin Local Water Quality District, previously serving as the Water Quality Specialist / Hydrogeologist for six years, and as the department head since 2019. She is currently focused on Gallatin water issues but past work includes measuring greenhouse gas emissions from thawing arctic permafrost in remote western Alaska, land reclamation monitoring in oil and gas fields, and studying groundwater nitrate in central Montana.