Meet the Board

We are the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition

Chair, Rick LoBello 

In addition to Board Chair for the Chihuhuan Desert Education Coalition, Rick LoBello  also serves as Education Curator and chair of the Zoo Conservation Committe for the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  As one of the co-founders of CDEC with Diane Perez, Rick’s longtime passion in life has been helping to save endangered species and their related habitats.  Today, Rick continues his work at the Zoo while also leveraging influence and leadership skills to help people who are trying to legally migrate to the United States at a shelter near my home in Mexico.  Read more about Rick at ricklobello.com 

Vice Chair, Dora Hernandez 

A native El Pasoan, Dora Hernandez has held an interest in science and biology since her first biology course.  Dora earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science at Washington State University, and eventually accepted a fulltime position as the Parks and Lands Division-Volunteer Program Coordinator for Clark County Public Works.  Dora has spearheaded 3 successful restoration and community stewardship programs: VINE (Vancouver Ivy Near Elimination) Squad, VolunTOUR and the Summer Riverside Cleanup Series. She is passionate about environmental issues, helping others connect with nature, and building relationships. 

Treasurer 1, Robert Vines 

Robert Vines was Plant Manager at Lexmark / IBM when he retired and started a second career consulting on specialty recycling where he helped set up the world’s largest recycler of laser cartridges. With a passion for the environment, Robert was responsible for the first successful LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) approved industrial building in Mexico. He has also been involved in efforts to bring awareness to local water issues and climate change initiatives.  He has been a Texas Master Naturalist for 10 years, has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and maintains a PE and C.P.M. certification. 

Treasurer 2, Jacob Croft 

Jacob is an aspiring, self-driven, conservation and wildlife biologist focusing on maintaining and protecting biodiversity. A biological science major from Arizona State University, Jacob also spent time in Albuquerque, New Mexico completing several observational projects upon the common blotch lizard and Rio Bosque biodiversity He is passionate about wildlife and conservation and is excited to make a difference to the community. 

Secretary 1,Dr. Kristen Lear 

Kristen Lear has led bat research, conservation, and education projects in the U.S., Australia, and Mexico. Her PhD work in Integrative Conservation at the University of Georgia focused on the conservation of the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat in Nuevo León and Coahuila, Mexico. She now works with Bat Conservation International, leading their Agave Restoration Initiative to restore and protect agaves, supporting pollinating bats.  Kristen is an award-winning public speaker and science communicator, with talks on platforms ranging from radio shows, podcasts, the national Geographic stage, and CBS’s “Mission Unstoppable” TV show about women in STEM. Read more about Kristen at: https://kristenlear.wixsite.com/batconservation/ 

Kendra Jones 

A consultant, artist, technologist and researcher in the Big Bend region, Kendra participated in the local Leadership Big Bend project and has studied organizational Leadership at Royal Roads University in Canada. Kendra holds a professional certificate in Innovation and Technology from MIT, and studied Design at Alberta University of the Arts. Driving Kendra’s passion, her family has been active in conservation of the Canadian Rockies and elephant conservation in South India.  

Secretary 2, John Sellers 

Coming from a family of homesteaders in Dog Canyon, New Mexico on the northern boundary of what is now Guadalupe Mountains National Park, John has a long history of environmental interest. He holds a background in water resource engineering, as a pastor and an economic assistant with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  John boasts over 60 week-long trips into the back country of the Chihuahuan Desert, including National Sierra Club outings.  And is a strong supporter of protecting the ecosystems of our southern Rockies and Chihuahuan Desert. 

Joseph Montisano

Joe Montisano started his career as a sales rep for Anhueser-Busch in the entertainment division of Busch Entertainment Parks at SeaWorld of Ohio working his way up to VP of Marketing.  After 8 years in corporate America, Joe left his position and accepted an executive director role for the non-profit Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. Since then, Joe has served as CEO to the Central Florida Zoological Park and Botanical Garden, Executive Director of Coastal Humane Society and Lincoln County Animal Shelter and later, for the Great Lakes Aquarium and Science Center in Duluth, MN.  In 2019, he accepted the position as Director of the El Paso Zoo. Joe enjoys the dry-heat, constant sunshine and hiking in the dessert.

Richard Kelly 

Stephanie Chavez 

Diane Perez 

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