Building a Dedicated Team of Land Stewards from the Ground Up
While each member of the Taos Land Trust team comes from diverse backgrounds, each shares a love for the land and a sincere commitment to conserving it for future generations to enjoy and explore. Every day, we strive to develop real skills and build new relationships and partnerships that will help us actually accomplish something on the ground. We recognize that we are conserving more than just land in each of our projects. We are protecting our connection to local culture and traditions and preserving a sense of place and relationship for people connected to the land. It is an honor and responsibility to use land trust tools and resources to help preserve the productive and open spaces of our beautiful home for the benefit of a broader community.
Kristina Ortez – Executive Director
Kristina grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California. She graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Anthropology, and began her career in New York City working in marketing and editing. In the late 90s, Kristina and friends started an internet company whose demise is forever immortalized on digital film in “Startup.com.” Shortly after the internet boom, Kristina moved to Indonesia, where she worked as an editor at Lontar Foundation, a literary foundation in Jakarta. It was here that her environmental consciousness was born after witnessing the devastating effects of environmental degradation. Kristina came back to the States determined to work on environmental issues that affected her own community. She has been an organizer, advocate and a policy analyst on public lands and water issues and served as a board member of organizations to restore and protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the San Joaquin River. She was most recently the Executive Director at SOMOS, Society of the Muse of the Southwest. She is the former board president of the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico. Email: Kristina@taoslandtrust.org.
Juniper Manley – Associate Director
Juniper has 19 years of experience in non-profit administration. Switching from an affinity for the arts, her passion for the land and for New Mexico prompted her to join the Land Trust. Here Juniper manages all fundraising activities and grant stewardship. For the Rio Fernando Park project, Juniper will lead Project Management coordinating staff and contractors. Juniper has a MA in Non-Profit Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA in Anthropology from Reed College. Email: Juniper@taoslandtrust.org.
Michelle Heinrich – Operations Manager
Michelle came to Taos in 2010 to work on a sustainable farming project at New Buffalo, spending the next two years helping create working farm as well as founding and running the Arroyo Hondo Farmers Market. She has her BA in English and MA in Teaching from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, and has worked in education, retail, network engineering, law, and non-profits. Most recently, she was the Office Manager at Habitat for Humanity Taos. She grew up in southern California and has lived in Washington, Massachusetts, and Ohio, but the beauty and culture of northern New Mexico have truly won her heart. Email: Michelle@taoslandtrust.org.
Ben Wright – Education and Land Projects Coordinator
Ben has lived worked in New Mexico since 1996, transforming towards his current position as Education and Land Projects Coordinator for Rio Fernando Park. As an ISA certified arborist with experience in community tree care and community landscape stewardship, he has found a home with the Taos Land Trust in the agricultural and ecological restoration of the Rio Fernando Park lands.
Jim O’Donnell – Communications
Jim was born and raised in southern Colorado. He obtained both a BA in Anthropology and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico. After ten years as an archaeologist and Jim served as the lead organizer for the Coalition for the Valle Vidal and after as the Northern Director for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Today Jim works part time as a freelance journalist, conservation photographer and our communications lead. He is the author of “Notes for the Aurora Society” and leads yearly photography workshops to Havana, Cuba. Email: email@example.com.