2021 Front Range Chapter Board of Directors

Meet the 2021 Board of dedicated and talented folks. 
 
If you would like to join us for a Board of Directors meeting, we currently meet online every third Wednesday at 6pm. Please email us at frontrangewildones@gmail.com if you are interested in attending a meeting and we will email you the link to join. Thank you!

PRESIDENT & PROGRAMS CO-CHAIR
Lisa Olsen

A Colorado Certified Nursery Professional working at a retail nursery, Lisa is on the “front line” of the movement towards landscaping with native plants, speaking with people daily about the choices they are making for their yards. From an early age, Lisa has had a passion for wildlife and wild places. Growing up in drought-plagued California, she has long been an advocate for water conservation and recognizes that the future of residential and commercial landscaping must include plants native to the region, benefiting the planet and the pocketbook. Living in Colorado since 2007, Lisa has joined the Colorado Native Plant Society, is a certified Native Plant Master, a volunteer native seed collector and crew leader with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, and a Wildscape Ambassador through Audubon Rockies. Lisa sees potential habitat everywhere, from yards to median strips and parking lots, and knows from experience that “If you plant it, they will come.”

VICE PRESIDENT
Diane L. Stahl

Diane is the former owner of Urban Roots, a city garden store and landscape company specializing in small space gardening and commercial amenities, and is now designing and installing commercial and residential properties utilizing native and xeric species. Her love and knowledge of gardening have been apparent since her high school days in Chicago, earning a Master Gardener’s certificate from the Denver Botanic Gardens, horticulture certificate from Front Range/Colorado State University, and many hours of home gardening. She possesses a distinct passion for horticulture and applied gardening that is sustainable and aesthetic. In her other professional life, Diane has been a successful fundraiser and business development leader for some of Denver’s high profile non-for-profit organizations, including the Denver Botanic Gardens. Diane is a “native transplant” and resides in Washington Park. 

SECRETARY
Courtney Cowgill

Courtney Cowgill has been an active and passionate gardener her whole life, but lacked the free time to get any formal training until her retirement from work as a CPA/CFO in 2018, when she enrolled in the Master Gardener Program in Arapahoe County. That program provided her the educational foundation to become a more informed, committed and successful gardener. Courtney’s reason for becoming a CMG was to learn how to reclaim the five acres she has lived on since 1983 and how to rebuild the Piney Creek streambed that runs through her land and neighborhood. In 2019 and 2020, Courtney completed and passed five of the Native Plant Master classes offered by Jefferson County. Through those classes Courtney recognized that both she and her neighbors needed to become “stewards” of the land, restoring its habitat value for the many insects, birds and animals that call it home. She is working to rebuild the pastures and creek-bed and reintroduce native plants on her property and in her neighborhood.

Courtney volunteered to serve as Secretary of the Wild Ones Front Range Chapter (WOFR) because she sees it as an opportunity for deep immersion into native landscaping educational resources. Becoming an active member also affords a connection with some of the best native gardeners in Colorado. Courtney has many years of board and non-profit experience, including serving in various leadership positions on three State Boards and Commissions, a private corporate board, many professional financial and women’s organizations, and several charitable and educational organizations. Courtney’s offering of her skills, expertise and commitment to WOFR embodies the ethic of reciprocity this community strives for: give to the land, and the land returns in kind.

TREASURER
Peggy Hanson

Peggy is a trained accountant who has embraced the need for environmentally sound residential landscaping practices. In 2000, while volunteering for conservation groups in Lake County, Illinois, she became acquainted with the vital place native plants occupy in preserving and restoring open spaces to have rich biodiversity and consequently, less demand on municipal resources. Since moving to the Front Range in 2012, she has volunteered at the Denver Botanic Gardens and became a docent there in 2016. In 2016, she and her husband began the process of replacing a large portion of their front lawn with native and water-smart/regionally-appropriate plants. They are enjoying the benefits of their labor in the variety of textures, flowers, birds, bees, and butterflies; the lower water bills are awesome too!

MEMBERSHIP & NEWSLETTER CHAIR Deborah Lebow Aal

Deborah was born and raised in New York, but left as soon as she could, raising her children in the Washington DC area, and then moving to Colorado in 1998. Deborah worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an attorney and then as a manager for 32 years, first in Washington, DC and then in Denver, CO. She worked in many different EPA offices and is well versed in issues related to water quality, air quality, and sustainability.  Deborah also worked as program director for the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation for two years in the 1990’s, and was a docent at the Denver Botanic Gardens for four years. Since leaving EPA, Deborah has studied and practiced permaculture and sustainable gardening and has a deep passion for healing the earth one yard at a time. She is an avid hiker, cyclist and yogini.

PROGRAMS CO-CHAIR
Jan Midgley

For thirty-four years, Jan was the owner of Wildflower, a nursery selling native plants. She is the author of Nursery Sources of Native Plants of the Southeastern United States published in 1993, Southeastern Wildflowers published in 1999 (also available in 7 state versions) and Native Plant Propagation, 4th ed. She is a Past Director of the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference held annually in Cullowhee, North Carolina. She lectures and writes about the cultivation and propagation of native plants. Jan has been gardening with native plants for forty years, challenged by soils and weather in Missouri, Michigan, Maryland, Alabama and for the last two years, Colorado.

GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
Tom Swihart

Tom spent his professional career in Florida with the state Department of Environmental Protection. He served as Administrator of the Office of Water Policy and as the state Water Conservation Manager. Since moving to Colorado, he has been a Lafayette Open Space volunteer and served as a member of the Town of Erie Tree Board. On the Tree Board, he was the lead individual in persuading the Town Trustees to adopt a resolution formally promoting native landscaping and low-irrigation practices. He and his wife are undertaking a native plant makeover of their yard in Erie. They believe that transforming urban landscapes of grass and non-native ornamental species to native species is one of the best things that Front Range communities can do for natural systems and people.

BOARD MEMBER AT LARGE
Danna Liebert

Danna is certified Colorado Gardener who has been working since the summer of 2019 with the Englewood Parks Department to establish pollinator habitat in Depot Park. With Wild Ones, Danna hopes to develop community-minded strategies to convert Denver-metro area open spaces to native prairie. Danna sees untapped opportunities in the neglected nooks, median strips, and high-maintenance turfs which, if planted appropriately, could reverse environmental damage, support pollinators, strengthen local communities, and bring “nature” into everyday urban life. In 2013, after two decades of working in film production in New York City, Danna and her family transplanted themselves to Englewood, CO. Here, in the process of turning her conventional front lawn into a low-water wildscape, she discovered her passion for naturalistic landscaping. The planning, coordination, and research skills Danna previously used as a documentary producer she now applies to landscaping projects in the service of environmental transformation.